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Best information won’t come from politicians

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

A major part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was unveiled Tuesday. Whether it will be the law of the land, overturned or delayed is an open question at this point.

It’s safe to say, however, the congressional debate over the future of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the threatened government shutdown and the upcoming debate over increasing the debt ceiling, have little to do with an individual’s health or insurance choices. The debate is mostly about partisan politics and grandstanding to look good for certain segments in both parties.

While Congress engages in a lot of silly posturing, the rest of us need to get informed and become better health care consumers.

The health exchanges will be open today in many states, including Illinois. This is the marketplace in which consumers who don’t currently have insurance can compare plans, figure out if they will receive government subsidies and sign up for an insurance program.

According to the law in its current state, everyone must have health insurance of some sort by Jan. 1, although there are proposals to delay the implementation. Information about the marketplace is available at www.healthcare.gov.

For most Americans, the exchanges aren’t vital. Anyone who currently has job-based insurance, which covers about 80 percent of the population, doesn’t have to participate in the exchanges. Those receiving job-based insurance plans can switch to the insurance offered in the public marketplace, but they should be aware that employers often pay a portion of the premium.

Although all of the Illinois marketplace plans weren’t made public ahead of time, it’s expected that they will offer a variety of coverage options and prices. Some plans, for example, may offer a limited number of doctors and hospitals in the plan to cut premium costs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as consumers are aware that some plans will offer more flexibility than others.

The key for consumers is to be informed. There are plenty of resources to find out about the new health care law and how it affects each individual. One place to start is at www.herald-review.com, where we’ve compiled information and will continue adding to it as more details emerge. There also are resources at the health care website, and you can have questions answered by calling 800-318-2596.

Each individual’s needs for health care are different. The debate raging in Congress is on a macro scale, and as we said, has more to do with posturing than with addressing any real issues.

That means the strategy for each of us is to become informed and make the best choices for our individual needs.

The (Decatur) Herald & Review

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