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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.

Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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