I’m starting to get this question more and more since I'm an insurance agent. Not only from my clients, but friends, relatives, strangers on the street practically once they find out I’m an agent.
I recently figured out that instead of going into an hour long dissertation on what Obamacare is, I’d start by asking what they think Obamacare is. And interestingly, most people really don’t know. There’s going to be a huge learning curve and that’s just on the basics. Here are a few items:
- It is NOT free health insurance or free health care for the most part. Some people will be eligible for heavily subsidized health insurance, or MediCal . You will still have costs for health care, but again, people at the lower end of the income spectrum will have fewer direct costs.
- Obamacare is NOT ‘a program.’ It is not one specific program, item, set of rules. You don’t specifically sign up for this. You can be covered potentially through your employer, through an individual health insurance plan, or an individual health insurance plan sold through a state Marketplace. In California, the Marketplace is called Covered California. Independent agents certified through the Marketplace will be able to help you select a plan either inside or outside the Marketplace. In case you're interested, I'm planning on doing this very soon.
- Obamacare does not ‘start’ October 1, depending on your definition of ‘start.’ What does start is the ability to buy coverage either inside or outside of the Marketplace as of that date which is guaranteed issues—the insurance carriers have to take you regardless of pre-existing health conditions. But, that coverage does not go into effect until January 1, 2014.
So do yourself a favor and try to do a little reading on all this. I know it’s a ton of stuff to absorb. And seriously consider using an independent agent to help you figure out which way to go. There are pros and cons of going in or out of the Marketplace, and it doesn’t cost you any more to use one of us for unbiased, reliable assistance. So hang on, stay tuned, we’re in for a bumpy ride!