Expert Details Obamacare Costs, Coverage

Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig -- Photo by Pat Blair
Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig -- Photo by Pat Blair

Depending on income and what plan is chosen, a Wyoming family of four could pay a little less than $7,900 a year for insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig talked about the Act, which is also known as Obamacare, and how people can enroll for coverage under the plan during a presentation Thursday morning at Sheridan's City Hall.

The insurance commissioner told an audience of more than two dozen people that the new program: ends the lifetime limit previously set on health insurance; guarantees issue and renewal to everyone; will cover the costs of preventative care; and extends coverage of dependents to age 26.

Among problems with the new insurance, he said, is that it will slightly bring down the rates paid by older people, but will increase rates paid by younger individuals.

He said Americans have until March 31 to enroll for coverage under the act. But people trying to enroll on the federal government's online site, www.healthcare.gov, have been unable to do so. The commissioner talked about the problems, and his concerns, following his presentation.

He said the state of Wyoming has established a system of community navigators to help people trying to enroll in the plan. Dialing 211 will access one of those navigators. He said people can also go online to www.wyoming211.org, or call toll-free to 1-800-318-2596 for help.

Some people may be able to keep their existing insurance plans, he said, after Obamacare goes into effect. But, they'll need to check with their insurance carrier to see if they can be grandfathered in. He also warned that the grandfather status could be lost at a later time. He went on to say that people who apply for coverage through the federal web site need to be aware that “a lot of people will be looking at your information.”

He said that isn't necessarily bad or good, but it is something that applicants need to know.
Among those who will have access to the applicant's information, he said, are the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, Social Security, the Wyoming Department of Health, Medicaid, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other state agencies.

“The enforcer of this (act),” he added, “is the IRS.”

RELATED STORY: Commissioner Warns of Obamacare Fraud

Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig told his audience Thursday morning in Sheridan to be aware of fraudulent schemes as deadlines approach for enrollment in the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

The insurance commissioner said fraud is already starting, and cited situations that people should be aware of. He said people should call his office and report if any of the following incidents happen: someone asks for money to enroll you in Obamacare; you receive an offer of a free Obamacare card; someone calls asking for personal information in order to enroll you in the Affordable Health Care marketplace; or if anyone calls a Medicare recipient with an offer to enroll that person in a health plan.

People who are on Medicare are exempt from the Affordable Health Care coverage.

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