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PHAN Holds Health Care Awareness Event

The Affordable Care Act goes into effect October 1st, with the threat of a government shutdown.

The House threatened the shutdown if the Affordable Care Act is not defunded and the Senate does not appear to see that as an option.

With the political tension rising, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wants to make sure people understand and are educated on the new health care law.

PHAN, along with the Consumer Health Coalition, Hill District Consensus Group and SEIU Healthcare PA will do just that at a community awareness event October 1st at the Hill House.

Erin Ninehouser, PHAN Education and Outreach Director, said this is the first event in Pittsburgh, but they have held multiple events around Pennsylvania.

“The goal is to celebrate this historic day, over a million Pennsylvanians are finally going to be able to access quality affordable health coverage for the new health care law…we’re bringing folks together to talk about the new choices and protections and benefits that the law brings for Pennsylvanians and how folks can start figuring out the choices and getting covered,” Ninehouser said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance under the new health care law.  It will also provide middle and low-income families with tax credits to cover a portion of the cost for coverage.

“The Affordable Care Act makes sure that your health care is secure no matter where you work, how much you earn or if you’ve been sick in the past,” Ninehouser said. “So, we’re really excited to see hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have been shut out and priced out of our health insurance market for years finally be able to get in an access coverage that’s affordable and quality.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans must have health insurance beginning January 2014 – and those that do not will pay a fine.

Ninehouser said the events have shown her that people have been misinformed about the Affordable Care Act – especially senior citizens and small businesses.

“Just to be really clear about what the law does and doesn’t do, if you’re a small business and you have under 50 full time equivalent employees, if you choose not to cover your workers, you are not going to be penalized for that,” Ninehouser said.

She said small businesses should know they will have better choices, more affordable prices and new tax credits to make it easier if they decide to offer coverage, but they’re not required to under the new law.

She said she also thinks it’s unfortunate that seniors have been targeted so much with misinformation – and the awareness events will help with that.

“When you actually start talking about what the law actually does to make sure coverage is quality and folks have affordable choices, their eyes just light up, and they’re like ‘oh wow, you mean it’s really this, you know and not this crazy thing that I’ve heard?’ so it’s been really great,” Ninehouser said.