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The Affordable Care Act

Posted by Ralph Wirtz on

Ralph Wirtz

Ralph Wirtz

Tuesday officially kicks off the sign up period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare" as President Barack Obama called it recently. Still few people know how much they are going to be paying for health care  come Jan. 1, even if they work for large corporations and presently have insurance.

That, however, is not necessarily anything different from past years. I have health insurance through the Hearst Corp. with CIGNA and we generally do not find out how much our out-of-pocket expenses, including our deductibles and premiums, will be until November. So we at the Daily News hope that there is little change to that.

We doubt, too, or so we've heard, that there is little change for people on Medicare. Still individuals should review the plans they have beginning Oct. 15 (through Dec. 7) during the open enrollment period to avoid any price and/or change surprises.

The Medicaid expansion in Michigan will mean that people with up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line can qualify for the program, adding about 400,000 people.

The big, huge, gargantuan changes this year will be for those people who don't have insurance right now, or work for companies that are dropping coverage in 2014, and don't qualify for Medicaid. Those residents in Michigan need to apply for exchange coverage at www.healthcare.gov which will be run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or by calling 800-318-2596, according to the Associated Press. There you will find a wonderfully confusing array of bronze, silver, gold and platinum tiers, each with different plans, each with different premiums and each with different limits on what they cover. You pay the rest, up to a cap of $6,350. People with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty level can get help with deductibles and copays.

Or you can pay a $95 fine in health reform's first year. It goes up after that.

Help can be found at www.enrollmichigan.gov/hicap to use a calculator, or call 877-999-6442. Further help can be found at www.enrollmichigan.com for a list of people or groups to help you out.

I wish you good luck with this. It's going to be tricky.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.


Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

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