Gerri Willis: Questions about the Affordable Care Act
By: Gerri Willis
Everyday there is some new Obamacare headline and for that reason viewers are sending me questions – a lot of them -- about the President's Affordable Care Act. Probably the most common question people want answered is, what is the deadline for getting coverage. And, that is more difficult to answer than you might imagine. Originally, the law required that you should be able to prove you had coverage as of Jan. 1, 2014, unless you could prove that you had some unusual circumstance for not complying right away. In that case, the deadline was March 31. Then last week, the White House tweeted that the deadline is now March 31. It's worth noting that a tweet does not set law, and I hope that the administration further clarifies the issue.
Another question I get over and over is this: Who has to sign up for Obamacare? The answer to that is pretty straight forward. If you don't have coverage from an employer, the federal government through Medicare, Medicaid or CHIPS or veterans care, you have to sign up. Admittedly, the devil is in the details because some private insurance plans, often described as catastrophic plans, are being canceled across the country. In California and Florida, hundreds of thousands of people are having their policies canceled because they don't meet the standards for ACA. If you are canceled, you will have to get another plan.
Without a doubt, the most concerned group I hear from are Medicare recipients who are worried that adding millions of people to Medicaid through Obamacare will hurt their care. I wish I could say they are wrong. But the likelihood is that more doctors will decide not to participate in Medicare or Medicaid and others may not accept Obamacare. My advice is that you consult directly with your caregiver to understand how they plan to cope with the changes that Obamacare is ushering in, not just for patients but also for doctors.
And, finally the other common question I get every day is, how safe will my personal information be on the Obamacare website. Again, I wish I had better news. The reality is this: Buried deep in the code for the website is a warning that information shared by individuals cannot be considered safe. And, it's important to note that health care data yields some of the highest returns for identity thieves. The truth is the hub puts millions of Americans at risk for theft of their private information.