Consumer Reports offers tool to help pick health care

October 1, 2013 7:37:00 PM PDT
More than five million people in California will be eligible for Obamacare when it goes into effect Jan. 1. As we've been reporting, one of its major provisions requires you to have health insurance. ABC7 News has partnered with Consumer Reports to explain how the law will affect you and what to expect when you apply.

Ever since he retired, Mark Yurqiw has bought his own insurance, but he says the premiums keep going up and it gets harder to understand what's actually covered.

Yurqiw says, "It's a terrible situation to be in, not knowing what you're going to have to pay for something, and there's no limit to what you could be paying for it."

Yurqiw is among one in five Americans who either buys individual health insurance or is completely uninsured. Under the new health care law, they'll find an entirely new way of choosing and purchasing insurance.

Starting Oct. 1, each state will have a kind of virtual insurance store; in California it is called Covered California.

There, you can compare plans and learn whether you qualify for financial assistance.

Nancy Metcalf is with Consumer Reports. She says, "If your current plan is really expensive or excludes a lot of services, you may find you qualify for a better plan at a lower cost on your state's marketplace."

But not everyone needs to shop for new insurance.

"Most Americans already have insurance, either through someone's job or through a government program like Medicare or Medicaid. They probably won't have to do anything, but it never hurts to check," said Metcalf.

To find out what you need to do, Consumer Reports has designed a free online tool called the Health Law Helper. First, answer some simple questions like: "What age will you be on January 1? How many people are in your family? What is your family's yearly income?"

Then click to get your results.

Metcalf says, "You'll learn what options you have for complying with the law. And you'll get information about your next steps."

Yurqiw just hopes he'll finally be able to cut his health care costs.

The health care tool from Consumer Reports is available at healthlawhelper.org. Consumer Reports notes this year you'll have until the end of March to purchase insurance through the marketplace.

Note: Covered California announced their website will be shutting down at 9 p.m. Tuesday night until Wednesday morning since there is such a high amount of traffic going to that site. They need to fix some glitches and will be up and running soon.

Written and Produced by Ken Miguel


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