Will Obamacare Make You Blow Your Budget?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet Two in five Americans, or some 40%, are spending more money on health care now than last year and are concerned how the new Affordable Care Act will affect their finances.
Only 8% of Americans say they are spending less money now on health care, according to a new Bankrate.com report.
Consumers are questioning how the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will affect their current health coverage. 28% say this is what they would most like to know about the new law, followed closely by the 24% who want to know how it will affect their household budgets. Another 23% are most curious about whether the Affordable Care Act is really going to happen, and 15% say their top question is simply what Obamacare is.
"We're just three weeks away from when the new health insurance exchanges will begin accepting applications and we're still observing a disturbing lack of consumer education," said Doug Whiteman, Bankrate.com insurance analyst. "If this doesn't change soon, millions of Americans could miss important deadlines or make uninformed decisions."
When open enrollment on the health insurance exchanges begins on October 1, individuals who lack employer-sponsored coverage will have the opportunity to buy a health plan for themselves and their families.
28% percent of Americans are feeling more negative about the Affordable Care Act now than they were 12 months ago, twice as many as the 14% who are feeling more positive. One in four people say it is more difficult to handle medical expenses now than it was a year ago.
Since the law is over 900 pages, consumers are stymied by the details, said Whiteman.
"It is very complicated," he said. "The law runs over 900 pages and is very nuanced and maybe people are tuning out."
Consumers need to be proactive and start doing research if they do not have an insurance plan currently, he said.
"It is time for people to start paying attention and be more educated particularly if they are uninsured or buying their own health insurance," he said. "It is the reality. It is happening. People will have six months to shop for a health plan after October 1. We are very concerned people are missing out on important deadlines and benefits such as the subsidies that will cut the cost of health in insurance."
Employees who are enrolling again in an employer-sponsored plan should be aware of changes beyond the cost of the plan premium, said Robin Gelburd, President of FAIR Health, a national not-for-profit corporation. Employees should examine the benefits such as whether the plan's provider network changed, the services that the plan covers or the out-of-network reimbursement provisions, she said.
"Consumers should not assume that their plan benefits will stay the same when re-enrolling," Gelburd said. "Consumers also should be aware of plan elements that may significantly affect out-of-pocket costs. It is important for consumers to understand how a plan's cost-sharing features such as deductible, co-pay and co-insurance impact their overall costs."