Health care reform law topic of talk

The federal Affordable Care Act will open up insurance coverage for more Americans, but many people remain confused about many provisions included under the new law.

Jan Todd, certified application counselor with Susquehanna Community Health & Dental Center, spoke to a handful of area residents who want to better understand the so-called “Obamacare” at the James V. Brown Library Thursday.

Under the Affordable Care Act, no longer can anyone be denied insurance, she noted.

That seemed to allay the fears of some people who feared they could be rejected coverage in some instances.

“They can’t discriminate any more for any pre-existing condition,” Todd said.

For many people, the new law will not have much of an impact on how they are covered.

Most notably, for those covered through their employer, they can opt to retain their same insurance.

People who don’t have coverage can tap the Health Insurance Marketplace to buy a private plan, Todd said.

And many of those people can become eligible for tax credits provided their incomes are below a certain level.

By law, all insurance in the marketplace must cover various conditions or procedures including ambulatory services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health, prescription drugs, preventative medicine, chronic diseases, and pediatric services.

The enrollment period for the insurance plans is from Oct. 1 to March 15.

And although the website set up by the federal government continues to not work as it should, it still can be used to find a lot of information on the Affordable Care Act, Todd said.

“It’s supposed to be functional by the end of the month,” she added.

Monetary penalties are assessed against those who opt to remain without insurance, ranging for individuals from $95 to 1 percent of a person’s income, whichever is higher. The family maximum is $285.

Employers who opt not to provide coverage will also face monetary penalties.

Medicare is not part of the insurance marketplace, and those who have Medicare plans can keep them.

Todd noted that about half of people with existing coverage have it through an employer.

Others are covered either by Medicare or Medicaid, while still others have purchased individual plans.