Clarksville, TN – The hotly debated Affordable Health Care Act, or “Obamacare” went into law on October 1st, 2013, and besides the political debate that has dominated the headlines, consumers are left wondering, “what is it” and “what am I supposed to do?”
Clarksville Online paid a visit to BFS Insurance of Clarksville, and asked Scott Samuels to help us understand how the program works, and what consumers need to know.
What’s the number one thing people need to know about “Obamacare?”
“Well, everybody needs to understand that it’s a Federal Mandate, and if people don’t get health insurance, then there’s a penalty they have to pay on their tax return the following year. People will need to decide if they will just pay the penalty, or get the insurance.”
If I currently have insurance, do I still have to go into the Exchange?
“When you get your insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act, or through the “exchange,” the federal government will subsidize you based on your income to help offset the premiums you pay. What people will really have to look at is the coverage they’re getting, and compare with their current plan.”
Will employers be shopping for group plans through the Exchange?
“There is a program for small business to “shop” for a group plan, and they can choose a program that they would want to offer their employees, and the employees would choose the option that suits them, but it’s designed for groups of 50 or less.”
What’s the one thing that most people misunderstand about Obamacare?
“The biggest misunderstanding is price. Both sides of this debate have thrown numbers around, and nobody really knows what the plan will cost until they apply for it, and get a premium. It’s “super-specific” to each individual, so until you see what the premium is for you and the subsidy you will receive, we really don’t know what it will cost. I can’t quote you a price over the phone, you have to apply for it and the exchange will tell you what it would cost.”
Since the program was launched earlier this month, there have been reports of difficulties using the government website, and getting help by phone. Scott recommends that you get with a local insurance agent, someone who’s familiar with health insurance, and let them help you with the application process.
According to Samuels;
“The application is very complicated, and it’s easy to make a mistake that would cause a problem with getting the proper plan. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to get with an agent and let them help you fill out the paperwork properly. We still don’t know what it will cost you, but if you don’t apply for it properly, it can cause you problems.”
Is the Government underwriting the insurance, or is it being handled by various insurance companies?
“In Tennessee, there are five companies that will be handling the program. Some states are different, and may have more, but residents of this state will have five choices of who will write the insurance. The good thing is that everybody will be able to get insurance, no matter if they have pre-existing conditions or not.”
What are the options people will have when applying for this insurance?
“There are four plans for people to choose from. The Bronze Plan, Silver Plan, Gold Plan and Platinum Plan. The Bronze is designed to cover 60% of your health care costs, the Silver Plan will cover 70%, the Gold Plan 80% and the Platinum Plan, 90% of your health care expenses. Of course, your premium will reflect the type of plan you choose, and the subsidy you receive to offset those premiums will be based on your household income. Some people might do very well in the Exchange, and people with health problems will be able to get insurance, but each person needs to understand what they’re doing and we can help.”
There are many more questions about “Obamacare” that we asked of Scott during our interview, and questions that you the consumer need answered before you venture into the health care “exchange.” We invite you to watch the entire interview for more answers, or to call BFS Insurance at 931-503-1533, and let one of the insurance experts help you with a better understanding of the programs.
For more information about your insurance needs, visit www.bfsinsurance.com.