Next up in healthcare reform: What does the Affordable Care Act mean for you?

| September 12, 2013

Getting help in our community
by Denise Porter-Ross Leathers

In August, more than 200 people came to together locally to discuss the Affordable Care Act and how it would impact us in Fort Wayne. This act, often called ObamaCare, has been tossed around like a political hot potato, but as the dust is settling, we are faced with making some personal choices within the next few weeks. If you were in the Town Hall meeting you had the opportunity to hear directly from elected officials, healthcare professionals and leaders in nonprofit organizations about their thoughts on the plans to rollout the reforms in our community. But if you were not able to attend that meeting, this column will recap that information and will give you the opportunity to seek answers as we look at our next steps together.

For a complete review of the Town Hall Meeting please check with Access TV at Allen County Public Library, www.acpl.lib or (260) 421-1222 to see when the tape of the event is scheduled to replay. You can also see the video clip from Kaiser Family Foundation that gives a humorous but effective overview of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on individuals, companies and the government below this story. Another source cited was the federal government website www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/individual/ that allows you to calculate what your estimated costs might be. This column will keep you abreast of the deadlines and action steps that are important in the Fort Wayne Community.

Since the ACA consists of five major components: Insurance Company Regulations, Medicare Improvements, Medicaid Expansions, Employer Health Coverage and Individual Mandates, we will look into each area in depth in future columns but for now let’s concentrate on a few of the frequently asked questions thus far:

Is this Legal? 

The Affordable Care Act is legal and is the law of the land in all 50 states. It has survived multiple attempts to derail or defund it, but the US Supreme Court has affirmed its legality. Even the component regarding Employer Health Coverage is legal but it has been delayed until 2015 for implementation.

What will this Cost?

It might be more meaningful to focus on what is the price if we don’t do anything to control our healthcare costs. While some individuals may pay more, since there will be more people in the pool in which the costs are shared that increase will be minimal. Others will have coverage for the first time because of pre-existing conditions they previously could not get health insurance at any cost. Many will find actual savings because they will be able to select a healthcare package that best fits their needs and there will be a lot of insurance companies competing for their business.

How do I get Help? 

Beginning in October, individuals can begin the process of selecting an insurance exchange or program that will provide their healthcare benefits. Since this is a new process for many of us, there is assistance to help people navigate through the process of enrollment. HealthVisions of Fort Wayne—(260) 745-1600—and the Volunteer Center—(260) 424-3505—will have an updated listing of the locations, date and times of local organizations and companies that are offering this assistance. FROST will also publish this information online and in future columns on this subject.

Please contact me at FROST, (260) 745-0552, if you have questions that you want to submit for this column.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 11 print edition.

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Category: Health, Local

About the Author ()

Denise Porter-Ross Leathers has worked with faith-based and community initiatives in Fort Wayne for over 25 years. After 10 years on the staff of the Mayor for the City of Fort Wayne, Denise now works with Fort Wayne Urban League and other non-profit organizations teaching self- sufficiency programs.