Heath insurance exchanges are opening – How can you help your neighbor?
Written by Yvonne Oliver
‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…’ - Hosea 4-6
The Affordable Care Act has created a great deal of excitement, but many people are feeling confused about exactly what the benefits of the new law are. Many of those who could most benefit from access to insurance through the ACA are members of our congregations, communities, and families. People of faith can have a key role in making sure our neighbors have access to good information so they can make informed decisions about their health care.
What is happening with the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act will make quality health insurance coverage more accessible and affordable to the more than 30 million people who are without health insurance. Consumers can begin applying for health coverage through the Health Insurance Market Place this month. Initial enrollment in the ACA insurance exchanges will be open October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. States have been working to build their own insurance market place where people can shop for the best insurance plans. Some families will be eligible for financial assistance to help offset costs making coverage more affordable.
A few of the benefits under the ACA:
- You cannot be denied insurance for pre-existing health conditions
- Women and men will pay the same cost for coverage
- The ACA Prohibits the unwarranted cancelling of policies, except for non-payment or fraud
- There is no annual or lifetime limits on your coverage
- Children can stay on parent’s insurance until age 26
- You will no longer be charged for preventative services
- The ACA gradually lowers prescription costs for Medicare Recipients and closes coverage gap “doughnut hole” by 2020; along with many other benefits.
We have already begun to see cost savings because the ACA helps fight waste, fraud, and abuse in our current health care system. Hospitals have greater incentives to reduce preventable complications and readmissions.
Why should churches be interested in this?
As centers for nurturing people, churches are trusted places to get information. The primary goal of the ACA is to help eligible, uninsured Americans gain access to high quality affordable health care. If your church has an active Health and Wellness Ministry, consider hosting an ‘ACA Information Day,’ include information about enrollment on your website and use weekly church bulletins to provide updates for church members.
On October 13 we hosted a webinar inform UCC members about the Affordable Care Act and help them to understand the new insurance exchanges. You can download the slides from the presenations here. You can get more of the information you need about the ACA and how to enroll in the new insurance exchanges at Healthcare.gov and by checking out this helpful video from the Kaiser Foundation.