More than 100 people packed the Harlowe Community Center on Monday night to get information about the Affordable Care Act.
Registration for the health insurance plans opens on Tuesday, and the meeting focused on informing residents about registration requirements.
Sandi Wheeler, of Enroll America, gave a presentation on enrollment, saying 78 percent of people across the country don’t understand the health insurance requirement. She said current issues in Washington in which the House is attempting to defund the program, also known as Obamacare, through a spending bill is only complicating matters for the public.
“That’s a politicalization,” Wheeler said. “It is the law.”
And that law requires just about everyone who files an income tax return to have health insurance.
“Any plan this large will have its controversies and take time to get the wrinkles out,” Wheeler said. “People have to hear the truth and not the lies. There’s some misinformation that people need to clarify for themselves.”
For those on Medicare or Medicaid, and those who receive veterans benefits or otherwise are on government insurance through the military or other government jobs, will not have to be part of the program.
Those who have health coverage through their employer also won’t be required to enroll in the program.
However, for those who currently don’t have health coverage through their employer or have individual policies that they started after March 23, 2010, they will be required to get health insurance or face a financial penalty. Individuals can go online through government websites or check with their local insurance provider.
Subsidies from the government are available for low-income residents who can’t afford the costs.
“They can get insurance at a very reduced rate,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said the purpose of the meeting Monday night was to make sure residents understood the rules and the procedures for getting insurance.
“Our goal is to say to people you have it, check it out and see if you qualify,” she said. “It’s just that simple.”
Wheeler cited an example in her own life in which she had to pay about $10,000 out of pocket for a $35,000 surgical procedure that would have cost about $3,300 under the new insurance rules.
Steve Chalk, of Chalk and Gibbs Insurance in Morehead City, said in a Tuesday morning presentation to members of the Havelock Chamber of Commerce that out-of-pocket medical expenses are capped at $6,350. He also pointed out that pediatric vision and dental is now required under health plans and that no more health questions will have to be answered to get insurance.
Businesses fall into categories of more than 50 or less than 50 full-time equivalent employees. Those less than 50 are not required to offer insurance to workers, but those with more than 50 are.
N.C. Rep. George Graham, D-Lenoir, who represents parts of Craven County, attended the Monday meeting in Harlowe and stressed that the political battle over healthcare reform failed to take into account that people are affected.
“People are real,” he told the crowd. “You are real people, and real people need education and need health care.”
For enrollment or other information on the Affordable Care Act, call 1-800-318-2596, or go online to www.healthcare.gov or www.enrollamerica.org.