Learn the facts about health care

Published 8:03 pm Monday, October 21, 2013

Since President Obama’s health care reform plan went into effect, I have talked with voters across the state expressing how the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has personally affected them.

Some small business owners state that in order to comply with the law, they felt forced to lay off employees or cut hours. Other voters say that their premiums have nearly doubled because of changes to the law.

I want to take this opportunity to dispel a few Obamacare myths and to invite you to attend a town hall meeting about health care in order to ask questions to health care professionals for yourself.

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First, I’ll address what Obamacare does for small businesses. If you have a small business with less than 50 employees, Obamacare will not affect you. The only change you will have to make is to notify your employees of the government health care website: www.healthcare.gov.

For small companies with more than 50 employees, yes, you will have to provide a minimum level of coverage or face tax penalties. But how many businesses fall into this category?

There are approximately 5.7 million firms, or businesses in the country. Of those, approximately 210,000, or 4 percent, have more than 50 employees. Of those 4 percent, about 95 percent already offer coverage. So, Obamacare only leaves roughly 10,000 employers nationwide who must now offer insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Next, let’s discuss premium increases. I am aware people who are privately insured with Blue Cross/Blue Shield have gotten letters stating their coverage plan is no longer acceptable under Obamacare and their rate will be increasing by some astronomical amount.

How the Affordable Care Act affects you here is largely based on your income level. Gov. Robert Bentley has refused to support Medicaid expansion, even though it would provide insurance coverage and create jobs for thousands of Alabamians.

If he would expand Medicaid, everyone under 138 percent of the poverty level, or those making about $32,500 per year for a family of four non-smokers in Dallas County, would be able to qualify for Medicaid.

That same family of four, making $32,500 in 2014, would be eligible for a tax credit subsidy to cover up to 88 percent of your health insurance premium for the year. You would not be required to pay more than 3.3 percent of your annual income for health insurance coverage.

What about a family making a little more money? That same family of four in Dallas County with no smokers would be eligible for tax subsidies up to approximately $93,000 per year in annual income.

Every family is different, but you may be surprised at what the Affordable Care Act could do for you. Visit www.healthcare.gov to find out what subsidies your family may be eligible to receive. Call on Bentley to expand Medicaid so your family can qualify for the same coverage as families in other states.

Come to the Health Care Town Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center located at 1000 Selma Avenue.

Know your rights. Get informed. Get covered.