Got Questions? Resources Available For Understanding Affordable Care Act

With many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) going into effect late this year and in 2014, the confusion about how the changes will affect individuals and employers is bound to grow. Several resources have been made available to help people weed through the information and to make you aware of what requirements and deadlines apply to you.

CMS maintains the HealthCare.gov website, and this is where individuals can find more information on health insurance exchanges, the enrollment for which begins on October 1, 2013. Depending on which state individuals reside in, they may be able to enroll in an exchange plan, or may be directed to their state’s own exchange enrollment site. Employers can also use this site to learn about the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) which can help them provide coverage for employees.

The White House also has its own page on health reform, which lists which provisions become effective when, describes the changes and the reasons for them, and spells out what provisions will be useful for various population groups (e.g., women and children, seniors, health care providers, etc.). One particularly useful bit is the “Myths & Facts” section, to correct misconceptions people might have based on media reports.

Walgreens and Blue Cross joined together to help consumers understand the coverage available to them and the changes in coverage that may result from the ACA. LearnAboutReform.com is touted to contain: “(1) Easy-to-understand explanations of what the new law means for consumers; (2) Frequently asked questions about eligibility for federal financial assistance, the individual mandate and penalties for not purchasing insurance; (3) An explanation of the enrollment process, and how the new Health Insurance Marketplace or “exchanges” will work; and (4) Interactive links to a glossary of terms related to health care reform.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) brought some levity to the topic by creating an animated video explaining the upcoming changes in health coverage under the ACA.  Narrated by Charlie Gibson, “The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare,” explains what is and isn’t changing under the law and is posted on the KFF site, along with other resources on the topic. KFF President, Drew Altman, was quoted as saying, ‘[t]his cartoon is meant to demystify a complex law and explain what it means for you, whether you support or oppose Obamacare.”