LEE CO, Fla. – Obamacare rolled across the country today despite attempts by Congress to delay the bill as a concession to fund the government. So far the pathway to “Affordable Care” has been a bumpy ride.
Under the new law, the nearly 3.5 million uninsured Floridians and almost 50 million uninsured nationwide will now have access to "affordable" healthcare.
To allow that to happen, the federal government has established a healthcare marketplace where you can shop around for the best coverage to fit your needs and your wallet.
There will be four levels of coverage: bronze (least expensive), silver, gold, and platinum (most expensive).
The more expensive the premium, the more coverage you get. Pricing is based on the amount of competition in the market place. Current reports suggest that Florida will have 102 competing plans, which should help drive costs down.
Enrollment opened today and runs six months until the end of March 2014. At that time, all uninsured Americans that have refused to purchase healthcare will be fined a $95 penalty or 1% of your pay, whichever is greater.
Thinking you’ll just take the penalty? That amount will increase each subsequent year, By 2016, fines for not having coverage would be $695 or 2.5 percent of income (whichever is greater).
That all sounds good, but we found out most people are unaware of what the new healthcare law means.
“People can't afford to have insurance in this economy and [now] it's a must,” asked Christina Hamilton.
"The elderly are real concerned but I don't know,” said Cindy Sprague.
As we spoke to more people, we found that a lack of information about the new law and how it will affect you seemed to be a common theme.
“There needs to be a flood of information on it. Or a website just specifically for that,” said Steven Lackey.
Lackey was on to something.
There is a website established to provide information about the new law, it allows you to compare plans and even sign up for coverage.
The website is www.healthcare.gov.
That website is up and running, but stammered through it’s first day with many people across the country reporting technical glitches and system overloads.
Not to worry, there are supposed to be "Obamacare Navigators" on-hand to walk you through the sign up process at several area locations.
Fox 4 found out that's not the case.
"They don't say nothing,” said Jarlie Sailtgilles, “they don't care."
The Lee County Human Services office is one of those locations where Obamacare specialists were supposed to be on hand, but they weren't ready yet.
“We'll be setting up appointments for next week to actually help people complete the application,” said Kim Hustad, program manager for the Lee Co. Department of Human Services.
“So right now we're not starting any enrollment," asked Four in Your Corner’s Julian Glover.
“No, we are instructed to do education and outreach,” said Hustad.
Lynn Thorpe with the Southwest Florida Health Planning Council told Fox 4 that there are only three Obamacare navigators that have finished the required training; they are fielding phone calls until the remaining specialists are up to speed.