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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, finally is up and running ... sort of. The software systems supporting healthcare.gov, the massive federal online healthcare exchange, have not been able to keep up with soaring nationwide web traffic and what appear to be inherent design flaws.
TV Smart Talk explains the Affordable Care Act as the federal health insurance marketplace goes live on the web for enrollment.
Pennsylvania chose not to establish its own online insurance marketplace, so uninsured Pennsylvanians have had to rely on the federal site and cope with the technical glitches. Early reports seem to indicate that states that set up their own exchanges are faring better and more efficiently signing up folks for health coverage. Our expert panel will answer your questions about coverage options, rates, and all the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act Thursday night at 8 on Smart Talk on witf-TV. To join the conversation, call 1-800-729-7532, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet, post a comment to Facebook, or reply to this article.
Our guests are Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine, John DeLorenzo, director of legal services for PinnacleHealth, Daniel Sosa, an outreach and enrollment specialist at SouthEast Lancaster Health Services, and Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
The federal healthcare exchange for Pennsylvania offers 56 different insurance options. Each plan on the site must include a package of 10 essential benefits, including ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, and maternity and newborn care. You can select the coverage you want at a premium price you can afford. The exchange will match people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level with federal tax credits to help pay for the coverage.
Most individuals starting on January 1 will have to have health insurance or pay a $95 penalty per adult, $47.50 per child, and up to $285 for a family, or one percent of family income, whichever is greater. The penalties ramp up considerably in the coming years. (The Obama administration chose to delay the requirement that large employers, those with 50 or more workers, are required to provide health benefits. That rule kicks in now in 2015. The penalties for non-compliance will be $2,000 per worker, exempting the first 30 employees.)
Week One of open enrollment did not go terribly well for the federal exchanges and those trying to enroll in Pennsylvania. In addition to the federal government shutdown triggered by Republicans' call for changes to Obamacare, the online website bogged down under the heavy user load and it was difficult for Pennsylvanians to enroll. Open enrollment continues through March 31, 2014. Coverage kicks in on January 1, 2014. The good news is that you can enroll as late as December 15 and still get coverage starting January 1.
Be sure to join us for the entire hour as we take your questions and comments, and go in-depth on the Affordable Care Act.
(This article has been updated to reflect a guest change. Mr. Sosa now will join the program in place of Carmela DiSomma.)
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