Tahlequah Daily Press

September 26, 2013

Meetings inform locals of AHCA changes

By SEAN ROWLEY
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — As implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act looms, many have questions about what it means for their insurance coverage.

Tuesday, a local agent scheduled meetings to inform people about the changes which can be expected in the next few months.

The presentations were given by Donna Reed of Donna Reed Insurance at the meeting room of the Tahlequah Public Library.

Two sessions were held, one in the afternoon and another in the evening.

“A lot of people are asking about the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare as it is often called,” Reed said.

“I thought that a lot of the information out there isn’t readily available, so I decided there should be a public meeting about its implications.”

The act is intended to enhance access to health insurance for U.S. citizens and legal residents under the age of 65.

Most people will notice little change if they already have health coverage through their employment or group insurance, Medicare or Social Security Disability or Sooner Care. Insure Oklahoma will also provide uninterrupted coverage through 2014.

Those without health insurance, with rare exception, are eligible to enroll in the state-based exchanges called the Health Care Marketplace. Oklahoma will not be included, but the federal exchange will include four state insurance companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coventry, Community Care and Global

Individuals, families and small businesses may create accounts to access the Health Care Marketplace.

They can buy insurance and determine whether they are eligible for tax credits or cost-sharing. Enrollment begins Oct. 1 and coverage begins Jan. 1.

Those with private insurance may want to check the exchange to compare rates and check eligibility for subsidy.

Under the act, health insurance is compulsory for most people. If not purchased, a tax penalty is assessed, which will begin at $95 per adult or one percent of adjusted family income in 2014, and rise to $695 and 2.5 percent by 2016.

A notable exception is included for American Indians not covered by a group plan.

Tribal citizens are exempt from penalties, but those with family incomes between 100-300 percent of the federal poverty level who obtain health insurance are eligible for federal subsidy and cost-sharing.

The penalty can also be waived if a person or household can demonstrate extremely low income.

For more information about the Affordable Health Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov.

-- srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com