A large crowd turned out Tuesday in West Alabama to learn how the new Affordable Healthcare Law could affect them. The workshop was held at Brian W. Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis. It was sponsored by Congresswoman Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama's 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of ongoing talks in Washington, she was not able to attend, however, several experts on the plan were in there to answer questions
"Coverage will begin as soon as January 1st 2014 and the enrollment period ends on March 31st 2014." That's part of what Sewell said in the video message that she made for those who attended the workshop. There was standing room only as residents from Marengo, Sumter, Choctaw and other counties from throughout the Alabama Black Belt Region gathered to find out their options under the new Affordable Healthcare Law, also known as Obamacare.
Jim Carnes with the non-profit group, Alabama Arise, was one of the presenters. As part of the new federal marketplace, he says parents of children who are enrolled in ALL KIDS, which is an insurance program for low income children in Alabama, will qualify for coverage discounts.
"As for eligibility, parents' income limits for ALL KIDS falls entirely within the new eligibility limits for the discounted healthcare at the health insurance marketplace," says Carnes.
When it comes to the federal marketplace, one of the most common questions is whether people can choose the doctor who they want to go to for care. Program navigators say the limits virtually reflect what insurance companies already have in place.
"The insurance that is offered on the marketplace is private insurance just like the ordinary Blue Cross/Blue Shield that people buy today, and each insurance plan has its network of doctors that accept that insurance coverage," says Carnes. "They can see if their provider of choice is in that network and if not they can encourage the doctor to join that network, or choose another plan."
More than 700-thousand Alabamians currently do not have health insurance. Nationwide, anyone who does not have some type of health coverage after March 31st of next year could face a fine.
"There will be a tax penalty at tax time for those folks who have deferred and decided not to take this opportunity," says Carnes.
To enroll in the new Federal Healthcare Marketplace call 1-800-318-2596 or log on to healthcare.gov. Information is also available at many public libraries, community centers and healthcare providers nationwide.