Affordable Care Act enrollment approaching, some forced to find new plans
In a few weeks, enrollment begins for government-mandated health insurance.
Some are dreading it while others consider it a lifeline. It is a part of the Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare.' Those mandates are already affecting some people with existing plans.
Under the Affordable Care Act, some existing insurance plans no longer meet federal standards. For example, 'cover TN,' a Tenn-Care sponsored program, will not be valid at the beginning of the new year.
Community health leaders are working now to spread the word on how the care act will affect you.
"It is surprising when you look at the surveys that are going out, how many people, about 78 to 75 percent of people are still not knowledgeable. They don't know about the ACA," says Katherlyn Geter.
Geter is an Affordable Care Act Administrator hired to explain what ACA means for Chattanoogans. A group of community health leaders met at the Dodson Community Health Center, planning out future information sessions for the public.
"Just getting the community knowledgeable, educating as many people as possible that this is going to relate and touch on getting prepared for October 1st, and what does that timeline mean? October 1st through March 31st, what do people need to do to kind of get prepared?"
Geter says the act will provide care for people who have never had it before.
"If you're a person that has not had insurance either for all of your life or part of your life, the ACA is something you need to look at," says Geter.
"We just got a letter a few months back stating that our plan was no longer going to be up to par for the government requirements," says Jeremy Wilkey.
Jeremy Wilkey of Soddy-Daisy, who is self-employed, says the ACA means making changes to his existing plan. He thinks it will cost him more.
"I'm sure that the high deductible that we have know is no longer going to be an option. And we changed to that in order to save on premiums because we weren't approaching our previous deductible when it was lower, so we justified a lower monthly premium in exchange for that risk," says Wilkey.
He says he understands the benefits of making health care available to more people, he just does not want it to affect his family's bottom line.
"It makes it harder anytime you've got to pay more for something that you're already getting, especially when you're already happy with what you've got," says Wilkey.
"I just want to let people know, don't be scared. I know that this is huge. It affects everybody. But there is help out there," says Geter.
Wilkey says he has asked his insurance company about potential options, but has not gotten a clear answer yet.
As it stands now, the U.S. government says about 16 percent of Tennesseans do not have health insurance. Out of that population group, 94 percent may qualify for tax credits to purchase the mandated coverage.