Still confused about the ACA, also known as Obamacare (or Romneycare!)?

Here's a an expansion of primer I wrote for Twitter, covering some of the basics. To get specific questions answered, go to the website listed below for instant chat or call the toll-free number, 24/7. 

Obamacare 101

Q. I get insurance at work. What do i need to do per new law? 
A. Absolutely nothing! You are already insured. Stay well!

Q. I am on Medicare. What should I do on October 1? 
A. Enjoy a good walk in the park. You are already insured.

Q. I just changed jobs and my new boss doesn't offer insurance. What to do?
A. Buy discounted insurance through your state exchange. Or, see if you can join an association that will insure you. 

Q. I'm a cancer survivor with no insurance. What can I do? 
A. Starting January 1, 2014, insurers cannot turn you down. Get insurance now through your state exchange Oct 1, for coverage beginning Jan 1, 2014. If you need help before then, there is a bridge-program designed for such situations. Ask an exchange navigator for more information. 

Q. I'm insured but my 20 year old son needs insurance and can't afford it. 
A. Insurers now must let him stay on your policy until age 26

Q. I heard insurance rates are going to sky rocket. 
A. So far, that is not the case. See
 for sample costs. (Note: If you haven't shopped for insurance lately, these prices may seem high, but they are discounted compared to today's premiums. Also, like all insurance, the broader the coverage, the higher the premium. You might be able to get away with a cheaper plan to start with, then upgrade next year when enrollment re-opens in the fall. 

Q. What happens if I don't take out health insurance? Can they make me? 
A. You'll pay a penalty when you file your next income tax. That penalty will increase every year you are not insured. 

Q. Where are these state exchanges? 
A. Online or through your state offices. See
 for more info.

Q. I don't make much and need insurance. Can I get Medicaid? 
A. A state insurance exchange navigator can tell you if you qualify.

Q. I'm on Medicaid. What do I do? 
A. If you still qualify, you will stay on Medicaid.

For answers to your own questions about Obamacare, see
or call 1-800-318-2596, for live responses in many languages, 24/7.

Feel free to share.

State-by-State Premiums Under the Health Care Law
New data from the Department of Health and Human Services outline how much monthly health care premiums will cost for individuals and families buying insurance through new exchanges in 36 states.

Confused about health care reform?

Here's a write-down of something I wrote for my local newspaper, the KevinMD blog and this blog in 2009. It's about Romneycare, the Massachusetts version of the Affordable Care Act. Except for some minor updating, everything still holds: 

We weren’t sure we liked the idea of mandatory universal health care when it was first presented to the people of Massachusetts. We worried about reduced care, higher bills, and all the other things you worry about when you’re facing change. 

Here’s what has happened to us as a result of mandatory, universal health care: 
• We are still on the same insurance plan. 
• We still go to the same doctors. 
• We’re still on the same medications. 
• We still use the same pharmacy.
• All other medical facilities we use – imaging labs, hospitals, blood testing labs, physical therapy -- have not changed. 
• As far as we can tell, our insurance premiums have not changed or have changed slightly ($5, maybe, per month).
• We both have increased our weekly exercise, in part, because our insurance now encourages prevention by paying a nice benefit for going to the gym. 
• We feel more comfortable being in crowds at the grocery store, movie theaters, or in close quarters at the barber shop and hair salon, knowing everyone there has access to health care. That means everyone we deal with is less likely to be spreading infectious disease than they were three years ago.
This program has been in effect almost three years. As far as we can tell, the world has not come to an end. 

And that’s the truth.

See today's New York Times for the truth behind claims about Obamacare. 

Jacqui, from Dirty Sparkle blog
Hi Paula,

We have been getting a lot of press her in the UK about the NHS here being rubbish. In fact it is wonderful.

Sure, it has it's faults, like sometimes you have to wait and sometimes you can't get the 'cure' straight away. Overall, the most beneficial thing about it is it helps those on low income, primarily. There is no charge at all for treatment or prescriptions for those who earn below a threshold. Children get ALL free treatment and so do pensioners. Everyone gets a similar level of treatment.

At the more affluent end, extra heath care insurance can be taken out so that if you want a plush room with plasma screen TV you can have that. But basically, the 'national insurance' premium is deducted at source form salaries and treatment is provided for everyone. This inspires a basic confidence that you will definitely get treatment if you get ill. The cosmetic dental and cosmetic surgery system is completely separate - all actual illness is treated
in nationally approved surgeries, clinics and hospitals.

It's a wonderful thing. I hope you soon have something similar.

Jacqueline Christodoulou, Ph.D.