State officials visited Rhinelander today to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act.
About 30 people gathered in the conference room of the public safety complex in hopes of clearing up often-hazy understandings of changes to come. One of those people was Mike Barnes, who says he and his wife purchase their own insurance.
“I’m just totally confused. I don’t know right or wrong – I say we’ve been carrying our own insurance for 24 years, we were self employed and it’s just very expensive for us. And I don’t know enough about the act to tell you if it’s gonna be good for us or not good for us.”
Staff from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the Department of Health Services gave a rundown of how the health exchange will work for individual purchasers, plus what changes are in store for small businesses. But some attendees anxious for information complained about the lack of details available. Actual insurance rates won’t be released until the exchange opens on October 1st, and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner won’t say which health plans will be offered where. That agency’s public Information officer JP Wieske says the federal government is still finalizing contracts with insurance companies. But his office has released general projections for what consumers can expect in terms of pricing.
“If you’re 20 years old, you’re looking at rates that are gonna be higher than what they are today. If you’re 60, their rates are not going to be changing as much as a 20-year-old would.”
Those projections don’t take into account subsidies from the federal governments that will reduce many people’s monthly payments.
Individuals who want to purchase health plans on the exchange can start signing up on October 1st. Coverage won’t begin until January 1st and consumers must enroll two weeks before that date in order for plans to take effect at the beginning of 2014.