Key Obamacare provision takes effect for uninsured

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — One of the key provisions of Obamacare goes into effect at midnight.

Starting at midnight the uninsured will have access to health care enrollment.

Hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are uninsured will be able to enroll in the Virginia health insurance exchange beginning October 1st, on the website healthcare.gov.

[Click to calculate how much will Obamacare cost you]

Open enrollment will last six months and if an uninsured, non-exempted person does not have health insurance after March of 2014 a fine will be issued to that person.

Experts estimate the fine to be $95 dollars during the first year.

But with just hours to go before the new health insurance exchanges go live, there are still many unanswered questions regarding how much the plan will cost and what exactly the plans will feature.

While healthcare.gov tells Virginians who is eligible to participate in an exchange and what type of coverage will be available, as of September 30th at 7:00 p.m. the cost is not available.

According to the State Corporation Commission, that is because plans are still being approved with just hours to go before launch.

The SCC did confirm to CBS 6 that eight health insurance providers will participate in the Virginia exchange, which will be run by the federal government.

  • Aetna Life Insurance Company
  • CareFirst BlueChoice, Inc.
  • Coventry Health Care of Virginia, Inc.
  • Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc.
  • HealthKeepers, Inc.
  • Innovation Health Insurance Company
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
  • Optima Health Plan

But just because a health insurance provider is operating an exchange in Virginia, it does not mean it is available in all parts of Virginia.

Exchange providers will operate in select areas of the state based on their licensing.

In Richmond, Henrico county, and Chesterfield county Aetna, Coventry, HealthKeepers, and  Optima will be available. But still, many Virginians have unanswered questions regarding the new health law.

The website of Rep. Eric Cantor did not feature the website healthcare.gov.

The website of Senator Mark Warner did not feature healthcare.gov on its homepage but did feature it under a separate tab.

The website of Senator Tim Kaine featured healthcare.gov at the bottom of his homepage.

The website of Rep. Bobby Scott appeared to feature healthcare.gov the most prominently in the headlines of his homepage.

According to Atty. Jill Hanken the task of informing Virginians about the new healthcare law are not falling to Congressional leaders but to “navigators”.

“We have a little less than 30 navigators who are working around Virginia,” Hanken told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

Hanken, who is a health law lawyer at the Virginia Poverty Law Center, is Director of the Virginia non profit “Enroll Virginia.”

Hanken says she received $1.2 million dollars from the federal government to hire individuals to answer questions about enrollment and assist in the process.

Hanken did however acknowledge that Virginia has far less money devoted to educating and enrolling people in the program than states that decided to set up its own exchanges.

“Virginia chose not to have its own marketplace so the federal government is running it for us,” Hanken said.

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