Open enrollment date for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Oct. 1 marks the first open enrollment date for the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

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While the ACA keeps many parts of the private insurance system in place, many major changes are taking place which is confusing to consumers who are struggling to understand the real impacts they need to understand in regards to their own personal and family situations.

Bob Crisan, Senior Vice President, Health Care Reform & Strategic Growth for Hylant, one of the largest privately held insurance brokerages in the United States with three offices in Southeast Michigan joined Murray Feldman on his MONEY MONDAY segment..

1. Tell us what the October 1 enrollment date means for consumers and what do they need to know.

· The enrollment date is the unveiling of what the exchanges or marketplace look like and what consumers need to know that there is a set level of plans they can chose from that were built by the government.

· The ACA created the Health Insurance Marketplace, a new way for individuals, families, and small businesses to get health coverage.

· Whether you need health coverage or have it already, the health care law offers new rights and protections that make coverage fairer and easier to understand.

· The three dates consumers should mark on their calendars:

October 1, 2013: Marketplace open enrollment starts

January 1, 2014: Health coverage can start

March 31, 2014: Open enrollment ends

2. What specifics should we beware of?

The good news is that consumers now have more protections. It will just take time for the system to work through any kinks that make come up. This is a widespread law effecting many people and businesses - there will certainly be a lot of learning done by everyone in 2014.

Benefits:

· Requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing health conditions.

· Makes it illegal for health insurance companies to arbitrarily cancel your health insurance just because you get sick.

· Protects your choice of doctors.

· Covers young adults under 26.

· Provides free preventive care.

3. At this point, do we have a clear understanding of the costs to consumers who opt into marketplace plans? No… cost will depend on each individual situation.

· We do know is that lower costs based on income are available only from the marketplace. Depending on your financial situation, certain individuals will receive supplemental support for their plans.

· All insurance plans available through the Marketplace will be offered by private insurance companies. They will decide which plans to offer and how much each will cost.

· All Marketplace plans must be approved by state insurance departments and certified by the Marketplace. Prices are approved by state insurance departments as required by state law.

· Starting in October, when you use the Marketplace to compare plans you'll see prices for all plans available to you. Prices will show any cost savings you may be eligible for based on your income. These lower costs are available only in the Marketplace.

4. What are the top 5 questions people can ask to get clarity on changes to their health insurance coverage?

There are still many aspects of the program that will become clearer into 2014. Right now it's all about creating awareness among people that changes are coming. Education is the best option to making the right decision in 2014. In the immediate future, we are advising consumers to do the following:

1. Evaluate your situation – There is no one right path for everyone. With this new law, the consumer has more control over their options. As we know, more choice can be good and bad. You will need to assess your own work, financial, and health situations to determine what is best for you.  You need to consider your age, financial position and employment status in any health care decision in 2014. The plan that works for someone with insurance from an employer will be different than the plan that works for some who is uninsured and is in a lower income bracket.

2. Educate yourself – Like with most of life's more complex decisions, spending time to understand ACA laws and its impact on your coverage before you make any decisions will help better position you to make smart choices. Sites like www.hylant.com and www.healthcare.gov offer in-depth information regarding

3. Talk to an expert – Whether it's your HR person or a certified independent agent ask questions and use their knowledge to your benefit. Talk to your HR person/employer. They will have make changes and each business will handle ACA differently depending on size. Be educated on how your company is incorporating the laws.

4. Make a decision – Take action. Don't wait. Once you've educated yourself, make the decision so that you aren't waiting till the last minute.

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