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Affordable Care Act Part 1

October 1st starts the first day residents can enroll in the marketplace. Many Americans are unclear about who qualifies, how much it will cost and how it will work.
JOPLIN, MO

The Affordable Care Act is officially here and many people have questions about what they need to do and how they go about getting health insurance. In Missouri, the federal government is operating the marketplace. It's a website where you will go to purchase health insurance and compare rates.

In order to simplify the process, several organizations in the state recently received grants to train their staff and create outreach terms in order to answer questions and help people enroll. Freeman Health System in Joplin received a grant from Missouri Foundation for Health.

"Freeman's involvement with doing this outreach and education community because we feel that people should be aware of what's available to them for health insurance. There's a lot of people that may utilize the emergency room for their healthcare and we want to give them the ability to be able to purchase insurance or even qualify for subsides through the government through the Affordable Care Act," says Freeman Marketplace Project Manager Amanda Mitchell.

The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance by the end of 2014. While there will be fines for not having health insurance, there are also subsidies, or tax credits, from the government to help make the policies more affordable.

"With all of the insurance plans that are offered through the marketplace, it covers 10 essential benefits and those benefits include wellness visits including maternity care, prescriptions among a lot of other things so they are good quality plans," says Mitchell.

The question many are asking is who qualifies and who is the law really targeting.

"We're looking to reach out to people that are currently uninsured, people that aren't able to get insurance through their employer, for people that are maybe their insurance through their employer is too expensive, people with pre-existing conditions that aren't able to get that insurance and because of those conditions and so it will be affordable to those that have lower incomes because there are subsidies available from the federal government to reduce the premiums if they fall within certain ranges with their income for their family," says Mitchell.

So when is the deadline to sign up.

"Really if there are any deadlines to kind of think about, it might be December 15th because people who enroll before December 15th in the health insurance marketplace, they will have coverage effective January 1st. Those who apply after December 15th will have coverage later on in the year 2014."

People may enroll in the health insurance marketplace during the open enrollment period from October 1st 2013 through March 31st in 2014. Health experts say if you have health insurance in 2014, you won't face any fines, but exemptions may apply to individuals who can't afford insurance offered through the marketplace.

KODE/KSN is setting up a special phone-in event on Wednesday, November 6th from 7 to 9 p.m. in order to answer any questions you have about the Affordable Care Act. Nearly a dozen Affordable Care experts will be standing by and ready to answer your questions. You can also check out Philip Mitchell's Facebook page and post questions under this story. You can also use Twitter to ask a question using #affordablecareKSN.
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