It's part of the Affordable Care Act.
It's a major part of the Affordable Care Act. The Health Exchanges open on Tuesday, October 1st. Officials say they will allow citizens who don't have health insurance to get coverage at a price they can afford. They can review what's available, and make a decision.
"The Affordable Care Act is going to help many, many Marylanders get health care. And it's going to help us all by making our system more rational and more affordable for all of us," says Vinnie DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, which is a strong supporter of this law.
The State of Maryland has set up its own health exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act. Citizens can reach the exchanges by going on line to www.marylandhealthconnection.gov. For those who don't have a computer, they can call 885-642-8570.
DeMarco says navigators are being trained to help those citizens who may be overwhelmed with all of the choices they have when it comes to health insurance.
Under the law, most Americans are required to have health insurance by January 1st, 2014. If you already have health insurance through your employer, you are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
The law has been very controversial, even before it passed Congress in 2010, and was signed by the President. Opponents complained the requirement that they be insured violated their personal freedom, and that it would make health care more expensive. "That's not been the case," says DeMarco. "We have had, since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, the slowest growth in health care costs in decades. It's because the Affordable Care Act is doing many things to make health care more affordable for everyone." Some of those "many things" include adult children being able to stay on their parents' health insurance policies until they are 26 years of age, and rebates being sent out to customers by insurance companies who overcharged their policyholders. The law also prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Repeal, defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act has been part of a resolution in Congress to make sure the federal government continues to function after the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a resolution which would fund the government, but delay the Affordable Care Act, which they refer to as "Obamacare." The Senate has rejected it. DeMarco calls this "politics at its worst." "And it's very, very sad that there are people in Congress who are willing to shut down the government in order to stop a law that's going to help tens of millions of people, save many lives, and make Maryland and America a much better place for all of us," he said.
The health exchanges will go into effect on Tuesday, October 1st, even if the federal government shuts down.