Avoid an error message, Affordable Care is not for everyone - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Avoid an error message, Affordable Care is not for everyone

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With the dawn of the Affordable Care Act and the online marketplace now open to the public, you may be wondering where you fit in and what action you should be taking.  

The insurance marketplace web site: https://www.healthcare.gov/ has been open to the public for three days, and so far, the massive amount of traffic it's seen from citizens across the country trying to access the site simultaneously has been keeping it from functioning properly.  

Help hotline centers have been flooded with calls from people who are having trouble- getting error messages, or sitting through major delays.  

Some think that locking in a rate quickly will ensure they get the best price, but officials say that's not a guaranteed strategy.  The Columbus Chamber of Commerce has been paying close attention to the process because their members- the small businesses- are the top group affected right next to uninsured individuals. Some members have reported the new plan is already forcing them to pay higher premiums.

"My opinion is that as time goes forward, this will even out.   People will be able to enroll in the individual exchange site," said Colin Martin, Chamber V.P. "Anytime cost increases, business people generally don't like that. So I think there's a little frustration there from what I'm hearing from our members. In order to keep premiums the same, they're having to lower benefits. What that really means is they're increasing the out of pocket for employees. But it's too early to tell. We'll have to see as this moves forward probably over the next year or two."

If you're one of the 78 percent of Americans who already has health insurance through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, you probably don't need to take any action. In order to qualify for a new rate, your monthly premium would have to equal 9.5 percent or more of your paycheck and your salary would have to be less than four times the poverty line.  

Very few currently insured people are going to fall into that category. This Affordable Care web site is mainly for the currently uninsured and small business owners to check out. If you're an uninsured individual who wants to remain without insurance, you'll have to pay an extra $95 tax which will be deducted from your refund annually. Other than that, nothing else will change.

If you're uninsured and you don't normally get a refund, you may be able to skip out on the new tax. According to The Washington Post, the government currently has no authority to come after you for the money other than deducting it from a refund or applying it to a future refund.  However, that circumstance may change in the future.

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