Details of Obamacare unclear to many

Health care marketplace opens Oct. 1

Palm Desert, Calif. - Sang Chae is a business owner with questions about how the Affordable Care Act will affect him and his employees. 

"There's a lot of gray area," Chae said the day before millions of Americans could begin enrolling for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. "I don't think many of us know what's going to happen."

Anita Austin is a stay-at-home mom with an autistic son. She says she is very worried about any potential changes to her families health care.

"I'm not sure because I know me and my son are on state MediCal," Austin said.  "I'm not sure if we're going to have to switch over, or if we're going to have to be paying for it now, or if it's going to be still free."

California's insurance exchange http://www.coveredca.com/ explains that people who currently have insurance, including Medicare or MediCal will not have to change anything. Most people we spoke with were unaware of Covered California and the national website, https://www.healthcare.gov/ which is also a helpful resource.

"People are being pushed to do this, whether they want it or not," Austin said. "Is it really going to be affordable? Is it going to be beneficial? Doctors offices are already overbooked and everything. Is it going to make it worse?"

An informational campaign to educate the public about the affordable care act will launch October 1st, the same day people can begin signing up. There has been limited outreach leading up to the launch of Obamacare.

Doug Johnston has been without health insurance since March when his COBRA coverage ran out. He said his insurer offered to keep him on a plan that charged a $1400 monthly premium, which he could not afford.

Johnston was proactive. He contacted Covered California and had his questions addressed. He is thrilled with the answers.

"I'm going to have one of the best plans I've ever seen off of this exchange with Blue Shield," Johnston said.  "My payment's going to be $171 a month for two of us."

Johnston says he hasn't had insurance in six months. With a blockage in his artery, he's been holding his breath. When the Affordable Care act kicks in January 1st he says he'll finally be able to exhale.

"I haven't been to a doctor since March," Johnston said. "If I can stay alive for three more months, I'm going to be just fine."

Those who have insurance now won't need to change a thing. Those who don't, will need to sign up before March 31st or face a one percent penalty on their income taxes.

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