-The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has been deemed Obamacare, will be going into full effect in 2014 and open enrollment begins today.
The open enrollment period will run until March 31, 2014. This will allow individuals who don't have health insurance, to "shop for and compare options for affordable coverage" on a new marketplace established by federal law.
The ACA "guarantees that more Americans will be able to afford health coverage by creating consumer protections and providing financial assistance to help people purchase coverage."
There are many protections already in existence with job-based coverage, but there will be new ones available for people who have to "purchase insurance on their own in the individual market." They are meant to ensure that consumers "have access to fairer, more comprehensive, and more affordable health coverage."
The website http://pennbpc.org/ACA talks about how the ACA will affect Pennsylvanians. It says that approximately 896,000 will be able to receive financial help for health insurance.
Under the ACA pre-existing conditions will be covered. This will help 5,489,000 Pennsylvanians who have pre-existing conditions "no longer be turned down or charged for more coverage."
The website also says that around "43 percent" of uninsured Pennsylvanians are between the ages of 18 and 34. It adds that young adults are the group "most likely to be uninsured" because they are "more likely to be unemployed or to earn low wages" that make health coverage unaffordable. This is also the group that will make up "more than one-third" of Pennsylvanians who will be eligible for tax credits, approximately 323,000 young adults.
With young adults earning lower wages, they will also receive "larger premium tax credits than their older counterparts, who generally earn higher wages." The site also states that those with the greatest need will get the most help.
You can call (800) 318-2596 to enroll or visit healthcare.gov.
"It's a federal facilitated marketplace," said Anthony Matrisciano, corporate communications officer for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. "If you enroll by December 15 coverage will go into effect January 1. If you enroll between December 15 and 31 coverage will start February 1 and so on."
However, he said that you must sign up between today and March 31, 2014.
The website will allow consumers to compare plans as well.
"When you login and enter your information you will see plans you are eligible for," Matrisciano stated.
He also said there are different medal levels, silver, bronze, gold and platinum. Silver includes lower premiums, but higher out of pocket expenses whereas platinum includes higher premiums, but lower expenses.
"If you are eligible for Medicaid you will be directed to the plans," he said. "Everything will be available."
Matrisciano added that "nothing will really change" with Medicare.
Page 2 of 2 - "They have their own open enrollment and won't need to go through the marketplace," he said.
The website www.getcoveredamerica.com provides more information about the ACA as well.
Blue Cross also has information on their website about the plans they will be offering.