What is in Obamacare for you?

Wendell Potter's guide to the ACA explains exactly what's in the law for ordinary Americans – from 'Grannie Pearl' to cousin Bobbie Ann

It’s December 14 … and that means it’s crunch time. If you’re uninsured, there’s less than two weeks before the December 23 deadline to enroll in an Affordable Care Act-approved qualified health plan. (That’s if you need your coverage to take effect by January 1. )

The good news is that the enrollment process at HealthCare.gov – and at many of the state marketplaces – is improving. The bad news is that polls continue to reveal that many Americans who remain uninsured still don’t even know about the new health insurance marketplaces. Even worse, many still are unaware of the tax credits and subsidies now available to help low- and middle-income folks pay their premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

There’s no good reason for folks to wait to learn about their coverage options and to take steps to make sure they have good health insurance next year. And there’s certainly no shortage of resources to help you quickly bone up on Obamacare and, more importantly, find out what’s in it for you.

In fact, Wendell Potter, a regular contributor to this site, has provided a great new resource that answers that very question. Obamacare: What’s in It for Me? What Everyone Needs to Know About the Affordable Care Act is a handy eBook now available on Amazon.com for the very affordable price of $2.51. (It will be available from iBooks and other online vendors in the coming days.)

It’s a really excellent guide to the Affordable Care Act, providing a clear, concise rundown of the law’s provisions. But where it really hits home – for you, for your family, friends and coworkers – is the fact that it takes a look at how the law stands to help a broad collection of individuals and families, with real-life examples pulled from Wendell’s own family album.

Profiles from the family album

There’s Wendell’s mother, Pearl, “enrolled in the government-run single-payer health plan we call Medicare.”
(She’ll benefit from the ACA’s gradual elimination of the “donut hole,” and the addition of new preventive tests and screenings at no additional cost.”

Wendell “sister” Donna is “one of millions of Americans who have been counting the days until they could shop for health insurance with the knowledge that they could not be turned down.” Though Donna’s been skeptical in the past , Wendell writes, recently “Donna wrote that she wants the ACA to be successful, in large part because she will at long last be able to get coverage, and at a cost she and Larry can afford.”

Obamacare’s gifts to Donna are guaranteed issue, an expansion of no-cost preventive services for women, caps on her out-of-pocket expenses, and an assortment of essential health benefits.

And Obamacare holds hope – whether they want it or not – for Wendell’s cousin, Bobbie Ann and her husband Hank.

On a recent trip back home, my conversation with them turned briefly to politics, and Hank brought up the Tea Party meetings he’d been going to. Although we didn’t talk specifically about “Obamacare,” it’s safe to say that he and probably every other relative of mine is skeptical of it – to say the least. All of my kinfolks, to my knowledge, are conservative Republicans. Heck, my wife, Lou, worked on Capitol Hill for a Republican congressman from Knoxville for more than a decade.

Bobbie Ann and Hank, who Wendell describes as small-town farmers with pre-existing conditions and no affordable coverage, will benefit from Obamacare’s guaranteed issue provision, expanded no-cost preventive services, caps on out-of-pocket expenses and a series of essential health benefits.

That’s just three of the great characters – and the challenges they face – that Wendell vividly illustrates in this great book. From entrepreneurs and small business owners to recent college grads, he paints the face of ordinary Americans with all-too ordinary health coverage challenges – and finishes the profiles with advice on where to shop for coverage, what to expect in terms of subsidies, and how to take advantage of all of the benefits of the law.

It’s a great read – and, for folks who fear the law is too complex and wordy – it’s a quick read. (And it sure doesn’t hurt that – like the law – it’s designed to be extremely affordable.)

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