Open Enrollment Nears for Affordable Care Act

September 18, 2013

It has been three years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, and now, there are just days left until a key component of the legislation goes into effect.

October 1 marks the start of open enrollment for people who want to get health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Dozens of people attended a forum hosted by Virginia Organizing Wednesday evening at Charlottesville City Hall to learn more about it and get their questions answered by experts.

"People are confused about who qualifies and how they sign up, and what it will cost and what the benefits are," said Virginia Organizing volunteer Dell Erwin. "There's just a lot of misinformation and lack of information, so we feel it's really important to educate people so they can make informed decisions."

The main focus of the forum was the health insurance marketplace, which is where people can start shopping for coverage on October 1.

"We have almost 50 million people in the United States who don't have health insurance," said Jill Hanken of the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

For people who get on board with a plan before December 15, 2013, coverage will begin January 1, 2014.

March 31, 2014 is the last day people can buy coverage before they face a penalty for being uninsured.

As the deadlines approach, Virginia Organizing wants to emphasize the importance of understanding the new health care system.

"If we have better, healthier people on good health care plans, that will benefit the whole of society because we all benefit when we have healthier citizens," said Erwin.

Virginia Organizing plans to hold monthly meetings to keep the community informed as the changes roll out.

The next forum is scheduled for October 19 at Sojourners United Church of Christ in Charlottesville. The event is open to the public.

Erwin recommends the following websites for more information about the Affordable Care Act: (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) (Kaiser Family Foundation) (Health Insurance Marketplace)

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