GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - President Obama's health care law went into effect October 1, which gives millions of Americans the opportunity to shop for medical insurance coverage through the new online health insurance exchanges.
"It's confusing with all the primaries and things like that and co-payments," shopper Luis Rivera said.
For many Americans, navigating through the maze that is health insurance has always been difficult. October 1st was the first day people could sign up through open enrollment and we spent all day, digging for the facts to break it down for our viewers.
Here are the basics:
The insurance is not government-run. It's still private companies selling insurance directly to consumers.
The only company in the Obamacare marketplace in Eastern North Carolina right now is Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The coverage is affordable but is not free. Under the new law, in order to qualify, a person must be working and meet certain income requirements. An individual will qualify for insurance within the affordable care act if their income is between $11,490 and $45,960. For families, the dollar amount ranges depending on the number of people in the family. For a family of four, the total income must be between $23,550 and $94,200 to qualify.
Rivera spent the day shopping to find the best policy for his family.
"I'm seeing if my medical benefits will be cheaper than what I am paying now," he said.
NCEnroll is a business helping people sign up for health insurance. The company has licensed health insurance agents to help people see if they qualify, and sign them up for coverage.
"If it ain't for me, it's for someone else. I think it's a great plan," Rivera said.
According to Sharon Evans, the director of operations at NCEnroll, part of the affordable care act is a subsidy from the government that comes in the form of a tax incentive. People can qualify for the tax cut if their employer doesn't offer affordable insurance. Affordable insurance is defined as premiums less than 9.5% of your total income. The subsidy also depends on your income, and people in the lowest income bracket will get free coverage.
Under the new law, all Americans are required to have health insurance. If a person fails to sign up for a plan there are penalties. Evans explains.
"The first year they will be penalized $95. After that it is going to go up probably three times that amount the following year. And then it is going to increase thereafter," Evans said.
Consumers do have time to decide. If you want your coverage to begin January 1st, you must sign up for health insurance no later than December 15th. Anyone who signs up after March 31, 2014 will face a tax fine.
Evans said that ENC is full of people that qualify for the affordable care act. She hopes that the face to face interaction her company offers will help answer questions.
"Reassured we are licensed by the state of North Carolina to do what we do and my team is very competent," Evans said.