Editorial: Set Political Feelings Aside and Learn How Health Care Reform Impacts You
This editorial is written by Dr. Lynne M. Sadler, Northern Kentucky Health Department district director of health. It originally appeared at KY Forward and is re-published with permission.
Looking for a sure-fire way to ignite a heated political discussion? Say the words Affordable Care Act, health care reform, or Obamacare. The changes to the health care system set in motion by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have sparked some of the most heated political debates this century.
And while healthy political rhetoric is part of what makes this country great, the debate has, for the most part, overshadowed the substance of the law. So, I’d ask that you set your political feelings aside as you read these next few paragraphs as a consumer, someone who uses the health care system from time to time.
First, most people who already have health insurance coverage, either from a plan offered by an employer, Medicare or Medicaid, will not see a whole lot change. You may get a notice from your employer later this month informing you of your right to coverage. Your plans may have open enrollment, similar to how they do each fall.
But, if you are one of the almost 15 percent of Kentuckians who don’t have coverage, you’ll have new options. The main one being that you’ll be able to purchase insurance through what’s called a health care exchange.
Basically, an exchange is a marketplace. Insurers offer their plans and you go, either online or by phone, and select the plan that’s best for your needs and budget.
It does get a bit muddy here: Some states, including Kentucky, have decided to run their own insurance exchanges. Others, including Ohio and Indiana, will have their residents purchase insurance on the federal exchange.
Kentucky’s exchange is called kynect. You can find it online at www.Kynect.com or by calling 1-855-4KYNECT.
Part of the health care law is making insurance more affordable for low-income families. So, you may be eligible for discounts on insurance through kynect, based on your household income and size. Some families may find that plans offered through kynect have better options than those they’d purchased individually or through an employer in the past.
Enrolling in an insurance plan, particularly if you’re not used to it, can be confusing. Fortunately, you can access help from insurance brokers and navigators. Details on who can perform each function are still shaping up.
If you choose to use the professionals’ help or enroll on your own, you’ll need to gather some information in advance.
www.Healthcare.gov recommends that you:
• Learn the basics about different types of plans, such as health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and catastrophic plans.
• Make a list of questions that you have.
• Gather paperwork that can prove your income and identity—this includes your Social Security Number, pay stubs, etc.
• Gather paperwork about your current insurance coverage, including details on how much you currently pay in premiums; how much your employer contributes and coverage available to you.
• Determine your budget. What can you afford to spend on health care?
The wheels of change in the health care industry are in motion. We know that a number of Kentuckians lack health insurance coverage and will benefit from the new options offered because of the Affordable Care Act. Oct. 1 is approaching quickly. Please take some time to learn how health care reform will impact your family.