Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: The rollout of the ACA from a navigator's point of view

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Dec 2, 2013 12:16 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, December 3, 2013:

healthcare website 300 vs 220.jpg

The Affordable Care Act Marketplace went on just over two months ago on October 1.  It was a big day for the new healthcare law.  For the first time, the uninsured, under insured, or just those shopping for health insurance plans could go to a website, make comparisons between plans, and purchase one.

That was the plan.  As we all know now, it didn't work out that way because the website didn't operate properly.

The White House says improvements have been made and point out that up to 800 thousand people can now shop on the website each day.

We've heard from a few people who have tried to log on.  Some have been successful -- many more have not or have given up.

Who better to describe the current situation than a navigator who assist consumers, businesses and their employees to look for coverage through the Marketplace.

Marian Lefevre.jpg

A Certified Application Counselor from Pinnacle Health -- Marian Lefevre - joins us on Tuesday's program to answer questions about the roll out, what improvements have been made and provide tips on how to enroll.

For more on Pennsylvania’s Insurance Marketplace and the Affordable Care Act--including helpful online tools--check out witf’s Transforming Health. From policy to personal choices this multimedia project takes a comprehensive look at the changing tide of healthcare. Online at  Transforming Health (dot) org. Transforming Health is a partnership of witf, WellSpan Health and PinnacleHealth.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-12-03 09:42


    I am a low income adult (no disabilities, children, veterans status, etc) that has applied for Medicaid in PA. If I do not get accepted, what happens then? My income is too low for tax subsidies that would make the private plans affordable.

  • Pamela Parson img 2013-12-03 09:49

    Marian has not mentioned that there ARE some people who will not be covered because Governor Corbett has chosen NOT to expand Medicaid. I am one of those people. I was able to get on the site in the first few weeks and completed the process. My eligibility letter states that I do not quality for medicaid or subsidy or the marketplace. Although Marian told a caller that isn't possible - she needs to check her information. I have the eligibility letter to prove it. The letter also states I'll be exempt from tax penalties. So what do I do now? The cheapest bronze plan is too expensive for me.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-12-03 09:53


    Please be clear that vets can apply to receive care at their local VA and if they are registered with the local VA that covers his insurance requirement. He does not need commercial coverage if he is registered at the VA.

  • Jim Foster img 2013-12-03 11:01

    Today I used the website to enroll for health insurance. I was VERY disappointed at the lousy way that the Obama Administration rolled out the website initially. It was perhaps the biggest failure of the whole Administration. But, based, on my experience, IT IS FIXED NOW. I found it to be about as easy as ordering Christmas presents on I encourage any folks who were initially put off by the botched roll out to try it again. In particular, USE THE CHAT FEATURE. I used chat twice, and my questions were answered quickly and competently. Obamacare is not perfect, but I think the website is fixed.

  • Scott LaMar img 2013-12-04 14:22

    Catastrophic Insurance Plans
    I spent about three hours on the site, including attempted
    online chats (pretty funny, but not helpful.) and telephone conversations.
    Ultimately, I discovered that I don't meet the MINIMUM annual salary (in
    Pennsylvania) to take advantage of any subsidies to purchase insurance.

    My questions:

    Since the exchange does not include "catastrophic" plans like the one I
    currently can afford, what options do I have for comparison shopping for
    this level of insurance?

    Is it likely that the insurance companies will lower the prices of
    catastrophic plans because of competition, or will this level of insurance
    become rarer, and hence more expensive?

    Thanks a lot - Mark

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