Viewers questions about Obamacare answered: Will health care get more expensive?

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DENVER — All this week FOX31 Denver is answering your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Tuesday, we talked about what Obamacare means for Coloradans with Vincent Plymell of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Viewers sent us their questions and here are some answers:

1. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, what can you do to get insurance?
— Rose

People who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but with low incomes, should visit Connect for Health Colorado and use their calculator to determine their eligibility for a federal tax credit.   After that, they should review the plans available to them and how much the tax credit will reduce their premiums.

Connect for Health Colorado offers many reasonably priced options, especially at the bronze and silver coverage levels, that will be made even more affordable with the federal tax credit.

Even lower-cost plans are also available called “CYA Plans” for “Cover Young Adults,” that are available to adults under 30 or those that meet certain income levels.

2. How does the affordable healthcare act control healthcare costs?
— Mike, Evergreen

If more people have health insurance, more people will gain access to better-quality and more reasonably-priced care.  This should limit the use of emergency rooms, often a more expensive and inefficient form of healthcare.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires that many preventive services be paid for by the insurance without any cost to the consumer.  People will not only gain access to better and more reasonably-priced care, but gain access to better preventive care.  This should reduce costs around chronic and long-term conditions, as well as reducing the need for more costly procedures and emergency medicine.

The ACA requires health insurance plans to meet common standards for coverage and this will allow people to more easily compare plans, leading them to become better health insurance and health care consumers.

3. I have no health insurance currently, but will be eligible for Medicare in June of 2014. Do I have to buy insurance now, before I’m enrolled in Medicare or will I be penalized?
— Sue, Clyde, NC

Yes, you will be penalized for not having insurance in part of 2014.  There is an exemption for people who are uninsured for less than three months of the year, but going without coverage until June would take you out of that category.  Penalties would need to be paid when you file your 2014 taxes.

4. Is CHP+ still going to be available for children and pregnant women?
— Michelle, N. Colo.

Yes.  Visit Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program for more info.

5.  Is Obamacare making health-care more expensive?
— John, Denver

Healthcare costs in the U.S. have been rising for many years now.  In the years since the Affordable Care Act became law some costs have continued to rise, while others have leveled off.

In 2014, the most significant changes yet kick in. Insurance companies must stop using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage, ten essential health benefits must be included in all plans and the new health exchanges go live ( giving people a place to do real comparison shopping).  The hope is that the changes brought about by Obamacare will “bend the curve,” meaning that while healthcare costs may not stop rising, at least right away, the steady climb will slow down and possibly level off.

Hopefully, the changes will control costs as more people gain access to better-quality and more reasonably-priced care.  This should limit the use of emergency rooms, often a more expensive and inefficient form of healthcare.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires that many preventive services be paid for by the insurance without any cost to the consumer.  People will not only gain access to better and more reasonably-priced care, but gain access to better preventive care.  This should reduce costs around chronic and long-term conditions, as well as reducing the need for more costly procedures and emergency medicine.