This Tuesday, November 12th, at Clinton Community College beginning at 6 p.m., I will be co-hosting a town hall meeting with the Iowa Insurance Division (IID) focusing on the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA, aka OmabaCare) and how it might impact actual real-life Clinton County residents. Originally, the IID wasn’t scheduled to do a community meeting here in Clinton – the closest one was in Davenport – but I called and asked and (somewhat to my surprise) they immediately said “Sure, no problem” … so big props to the IID for that.
Representatives from the IID will discuss new health care coverage requirements, the Insurance Marketplace/Exchange, tax credits and subsidies that may be available, and other related topics. A representative from the Department of Human Services will discuss the transition from IowaCare to the Iowa Wellness and Marketplace Choice Plan – Iowa’s version of “Medicaid expansion” – which go into effect January 1st. A Clinton County representative of the Marketplace Navigator program will explain how a certified navigator can help you figure out which of the health care plans available on the Exchange is best/most cost effective for you and your family.
So if you do not currently have health insurance coverage, or if you are covered by Iowa Care (which for all intents and purposes no longer exists), you should definitely attend this meeting, because (1) the ACA requires that you have health insurance coverage as of January 1st and (2) depending on your income, coverage may cost you little or nothing. If you do currently have health insurance coverage through a private (non-employment related) plan, you should also definitely attend this meeting – you’ve likely received a letter warning you about the big increase in premiums you can expect due to the ACA, and the IID will have information about this, and about alternative (possibly better/less expensive) options available to you through the Exchange.
What if you currently have health insurance coverage through your employer – does the ACA impact you? Any reason for you to attend this meeting? Yes and yes, probably . Depending on the cost of the least expensive self-only coverage available to you through your employer, you may be able to find better, less expensive coverage through the Exchange. And even if that’s not the case, one never knows what the future may bring – information learned at this meeting will be helpful if your employment related insurance coverage suddenly becomes unavailable.
I really hope that a lot of Clinton County residents attend this meeting. There has been so much understandable fear/confusion/anger surrounding the ACA – some of it due to real problems that desperately need to be fixed (here’s one), some of it due to misinformation and/or deliberate fabrication that is being disseminated by people on both sides of the issue (there’s an example of that). The speakers at Tuesday’s presentation won’t have all the answers – no one does, at this point – but they have more expertise on these issues than most of us do, so I am really looking forward to their presentation.
Finally, to avoid any misunderstandings, let me clarify that this meeting is NOT intended to be a debate on the pros and cons of ObamaCare – e.g., whether the ACA is a good law, whether it should be repealed, whether the rollout of the Marketplace Exchange was mishandled (that’s a given), whether there are provisions of the ACA that desperately need to be amended (also a given). The ACA is a federal law, not a state one, and no one has to like it but everyone has to live with it, at least for now, and that’s what this meeting is about – how to live with the ACA. This meeting is intended to explain some of the most important rules, and to provide accurate information about some of the benefits of the ACA and how to access those benefits, so that the Clinton County folks who are eligible to take advantage of these benefits are able to do so in a timely manner.
There are many problems with the ACA and with the Exchange website that need to be resolved quickly, in order for the ACA to be viable, and there are thousands of people in DC and across the country working on doing just that. But ultimately, it will be up to the federal leadership of both parties to ensure that the necessary curative amendments move forward. Congress can make the ACA better and make it work, or they can refuse to fix it and let it blow up – personally (like Tim Gunn), I prefer the “make it work” option, and I sure hope that a majority of Congress agrees with me.