As the health care exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act continue to be haltingly implemented, millions of Americans are trying to understand their insurance options. It’s become a murky process for many, whether they had a policy previously or they are trying to sign up for a new one.1
The effects of the confusion over the law are far-reaching. Aside from the difficulties individuals are experiencing, physicians, certified medical assistants, registered dental assistants and other health professionals have to navigate the new landscape that is being created by the law. That makes it important to examine some of the options available to consumers in order to gain a greater understanding all around.
Free and cheap policies
The Affordable Care Act has afforded millions of Americans the option to sign up for free or extraordinarily cheap insurance policies. However, the government and insurance companies have been reluctant to promote many of those options because they might not meet many peoples’ needs, according to The New York Times.2
Nonetheless, many people are turning to those less expensive options – referred to as “bronze” policies – because they lack the financial means to pay for plans with higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs. The bronze plans are especially useful for people who fall into the gray area between qualifying for the Medicaid expansion and being able to afford more expansive coverage. Many of the less expensive policies have premiums as low as $20 a month.
Confusion among people who already have insurance has led to a lot of turmoil in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Some people have been getting letters from the federal government telling them they will no longer be able to enroll in their current policies once their anniversary date comes around. The reason for this, according to the Buffalo News,3 is that the law was also designed to help people who were underinsured.
The fact that that effort has led to thousands of people in Western New York and elsewhere to lose their current coverage has outraged many. However, the ultimate goal of the law is not only to insure every American, but to make that insurance as comprehensive and affordable as possible.
With a system as large as health care, there are always going to be difficulties managing major reforms. But the ability of the Affordable Care Act to offer inexpensive policies and improve on substandard ones should help it to ultimately have a positive impact.
1 Christensen, Jen, “What’s up with Obamacare and my Health Care?” CNN.com, Nov. 4, 2013. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/03/health/healthcare-whats-up/
2 Abelson, Reed; Thomas, Katie, “Under Health Care Act, Millions Eligible for Free Policies,” The New York Times, Nov. 3, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/04/business/under-health-care-act-millions-eligible-for-free-policies.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1383592124-4EyLDdLjAPBYKxSVh/oR8Q
3 Zremski, Jerry, “137,000 in WNY get Health Care Discontinuation Notices,” The Buffalo News, Nov. 2, 2013. http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/medical/137000-in-wny-get-health-care-discontinuation-notices-20131102