12 On Your Side: How will you be impacted by Affordable Care Act?



News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW) -- "You're seeing large companies who are saying we're no longer going to offer coverage to spouses," says Russell Head, partner with Group & Benefits Consulting in Augusta.

He says your spouse may need to look for their own health coverage starting October 1 under the Affordable Care Act. Head says it is one of many changes to come. "It's a huge change and one that your going to see probably happen more often than not," says Head.

However he says under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to ask about any pre-existing conditions and will be limited to inquiring only about your age and the size of your family. Where you live will also be a factor.

"There are about 12 different regions in Georgia, so depending on where you live will determine where your rates are," says Head. And speaking of rates, smokers could face stiff penalties. "An insurance company can actually charge up to a 50% surcharge if you are a tobacco user," says Head.

But he says insurance companies will be required to make smoking cessation programs available. It may also come as no surprise that there are some loopholes in the new 900-plus page healthcare law, but there are penalties if you do not sign up.

"They also have to understand they will be subject to a $95 penalty," says Head. He says the fines will continue to grow too. "The next year its $295, the year after that it's $695 or up to 2.5% of your income," says Head.

So whether you plan to enroll or not, he says the sign-up day is fast approaching..

"Open enrollment will start October 1, with a January 1, effective date," says Head. Next year the enrollment period will be 7-weeks long from October 15, through December 7, to coincide with Medicare.

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