By Dawn Aulet
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare is a multifaceted law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But for those who need to sign up for the government-plan insurance, the date to begin to move is actually in a few short weeks.
"The date of January 1 is changing the structure of health insurance," Nicholas Tkaczuk, (title) said. "Ten or 15 or 20 million people are going to obtain health insurance at little or no cost to them."
Tkaczuk, of Channahon, works as a facilitator and matches consumers to the best plan for their needs. The work he does for consumers does not cost anything. He is paid by the insurance companies. But he sees himself as a community liaison and often spends time with individuals just to get them in the right plan. Sometimes that means he is working for free. But that is OK with him. "I just want to make myself available," he said.
While implementation of the law is under way, Republicans in Congress are not backing down. They are still trying to find ways to thwart it by proposing bills to prevent or delay funding. But if it goes through as planned, there will be impacts both to those who fund their own private insurance and to those who qualify for government-subsidized plans.
Individuals who are opting for the government-subsidized option can begin the process in October. If they do not have a plan in place by January, they will be taxed. That amount is estimated to be 3 percent of a person's annual income prorated every month. For a number of people, though, especially those with chronic health issues or pre-existing conditions, the impact of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is significant—they will finally be able to get health care coverage.
"Before this Obamacare, for many people this was difficult if not impossible.
But the changes also apply to those with private insurance who were able to get plans previously and even though who have active plans in place. The private insurance companies are impacted by Obamacare and must change the plans they offer to something called a (metallic) plan. Those plans are gold, silver, etc. and are consistent across the different companies. What is not consistent, though, is how each private insurance company handles the change and the cost impact to consumers.
"There can be a 40 percent to 90 percent adjustment in premium," Tkaczuk said.
Some insurance carriers have chosen to grandfather in existing plans. But others have sent letters to customers letting them know how their plans will be changing and what the cost impact will be for the customers.
What this boils down to is a lot of information that is not always consistent across the board. Consumers have Web sites like the Kaiser Family Foundation to help them sort fact from fiction.
"It's a wealth of reform source information," Tkaczuk said.
But it can still be overwhelming.
Tkaczuk compares trying to research and purchase plans on your own to car repairs.
"If my transmission was going on my vehicle...I would be going to a transmission specialist," he said.
To make an appointment with Tkaczuk, call 708-514-4936.