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Health

Affordable Care Act Goes Into Effect

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You probably know it as Obamacare, but its official name is the Affordable Care Act. And starting Tuesday, enrollment opens for mandatory insurance.

New policies don’t actually go into effect until January 1, but in the meantime, curious shoppers can take to the health exchanges to find a deal on health insurance.

For the many people around the country without insurance, this is an opportunity to buy something affordable, perhaps with financial assistance from the government.

“Many people will qualify for financial help to pay for the premiums on these policies,” said Sorien Schmidt, North Carolina director for Enroll America.

However, for those people already insured through work, the enrollment doesn’t really apply.

“If you have affordable health insurance available to you now, then you will not be switching to this plan,” Schmidt said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health exchanges were to be set up for people to peruse in search of insurance. States had the option to create their own or let the federal government do it. North Carolina declined to create its own. The decision was not consequence free, according to John Murawski, business reporter for the News & Observer.

“States that set up a state exchange got  a lot more money from the federal government for outreach and enrollment… in North Carolina it would have been about four times as much money as the state got.”
 

The Affordable Care Act also provided for federal Medicaid expansion,  but North Carolina rejected that as well. That has powerful implications for the poorest people in the United States, those who can’t afford to buy insurance even at the cheapest levels.

“By not putting them on Medicaid we will continue to have a gap of people who will not have access to health care that they can afford,” Murawski said.

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