Cumberland Times-News

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September 29, 2013

Meeting on Affordable Care Act draws large crowd

CUMBERLAND — With enrollment beginning Tuesday, a crowd of nearly 200 people filled the auditorium at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center on Thursday evening to get information on the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act, voted into law in 2010, is a program that requires all uninsured Americans to obtain health insurance.

Healthy Howard, an organization based in Howard County, has been selected to assist Allegany, Garrett, Washington, Frederick, Carroll and Howard counties in implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Heather Glass, field operations manager for the organization, acted as host for the hour-and-a-half event.

“This program is designed to help those who do not have health insurance in obtaining it,” said Glass.

Across the nation, the act is being put into place in a variety of ways, including websites, toll-free phone numbers and in-person appointments, to allow people to register and obtain health coverage.

If you already have insurance through an employer or any other organization, you do not have to register or do anything.

Only those who have no health insurance need to register and obtain coverage.

“We have navigators available that can help you through the process and answer questions,” said Glass.

By contacting a trained and certified representative you will be assisted, based on income, in finding a health plan best suited to your needs.

 The act can make available insurance plans from Medicaid and Medicare to a variety of private health insurance plans designed for the Affordable Care Act.

The plans available under the act are like the plans made available now under carriers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and CareFirst.

A variety of deductible and co-pays are available and coverage is effective as of Jan. 1.

“You cannot be turned down for insurance if you have a pre-existing condition,” said Glass.

Appearing with Glass was a panel of three health insurance experts. Many questions were answered by the representatives, while a few in-depth questions left the panel having to take contact information to get back to them.

The program goes live online on Tuesday. The panel said it is involved in ongoing training.

The act allows those up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plan.

Those who do not register and obtain health insurance will be subject to a penalty assessed on their tax return of a minimum of $95 or 1 percent of their adjusted gross income.

The penalty it set to rise to 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income in the second year of the program.

More information on the Affordable Care Act can be obtained at MarylandHealthConnection.gov.

Those interested in registering or getting a quote may call 855-288-3667 or visit online at DoorToHealthCare.org.

Assistance can also be obtained through the Allegany Health Department at 301-759-5098 beginning Tuesday.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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