Saturday, September 7, 2013
In less than a month, Americans can start shopping around for health insurance options under an online exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
A Kansas group wants to make sure consumers know their options.
Though most provisions of the federal health care law do not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, the online marketplace that will allow consumers to shop their options opens Oct. 1. That was the focus of a workshop in north Wichita Saturday.
"Our goal here was to let people know that regardless of your partisan politics, this is the new law and you need to learn what it's about," Speak Out Kansas Executive Director Monty Shaw said.
With major changes coming in health care law, Speak Out Kansas wants the public to know what changes are coming. There are plenty of questions to be answered, Shaw said.
"They're wondering how it will affect their current insurance," he said of people attending the workshop. "They're wondering about how, when they buy new plans, how the new law is going to affect those."
Anna Lambertson, Executive Director of the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition was on hand to try to answer some of those questions, along with how consumers can start navigating the online marketplace of insurance options next month.
"It seems like a lot of people have heard of the marketplace, but they don't really know what it means," Lambertson said. "A lot of people still are unaware that there are tax credits, so there will be financial assistance to help people purchase plans, which is huge."
The Affordable Care Act has been divisive with efforts still underway in Congress to repeal the law.
Speaking at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Sen. Pat Roberts' press secretary said there are still too many questions about the new law that have been unanswered.
"But what we know for sure is premiums for families all across the country are going to go up," Sean Fitzpatrick said. "We're putting the government between their doctor and the patient and we don't need that."
Lambertson conceded there will still be a small percentage of Americans unable to afford health insurance under the new law, another item the law's critics point to.