The time has come

Mel and Pearl Shaw | 10/10/2013, midnight
The Affordable Care Act is here. Knowing that nonprofits play a key role in connecting people to services, we asked ...

The Affordable Care Act is here. Knowing that nonprofits play a key role in connecting people to services, we asked a few questions of Dr. Clarence Davis, medical director, government business with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

We first wanted to know what the Affordable Care Act–or Obamacare–means to people who already have insurance and those who currently don’t.

Davis shared with us, “For those that already have insurance through an employer, nothing should change for you. When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it carried with it a promise of expanding access to quality, affordable health coverage for millions of American families and small businesses. Some individuals have already begun to experience the benefits of the Affordable Care Act with coverage that includes preventive care like mammograms, physicals, screening for diabetes and more at no out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, young people who may have been without health insurance can now stay on their parents plans until age 26.

For people without health insurance, including those with pre-existing conditions, the health insurance marketplaces may allow for more affordable access to care with the help of federal cost savings.

We also wanted to know about the importance of Oct. 1, when insurance marketplaces opened in every state, giving individuals a new way to shop for health insurance. All plans are required to cover a set of benefits that includes hospital stays, prescriptions, maternity and newborn care, preventive and wellness services, and other benefits that have been deemed essential.

We wanted to know if purchasing insurance would be different in states that are implementing exchanges, and states that are not. Davis set us straight, sharing, “All states will have exchanges whether run by their state government or the federal government. And the requirement for people to have coverage applies equally in all states, no matter which kind of marketplace they have. If individuals are currently uninsured or have a limited benefit plan, the marketplace will allow them to review various coverage options and make comparisons of plans before they make a decision. Financial assistance may be available for individuals depending upon their income and household size. They can go to www.healthcare.gov to see if they qualify.

Finally, we wanted to know what role nonprofits can play in getting out information to people they serve. Davis’ words of wisdom: “Nonprofits can definitely assist with providing information and education to their client base. If interested, they can sign up to be certified application counselor or champions of coverage for the Affordable Care Act. Applications for Certified Application Counselors are available at http://marketplace.cms.gov/help-us/cac-apply.html. And finally, the one place to learn more about the Affordable Care Act is www.healthcare.gov.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success.” They position nonprofits for fundraising success. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com.