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Obamacare countdown heats up

There's a lot of confusion around what's going to happen under Obamacare. Where can you go for accurate (and non-partisan) information? Start here.

By Smart Spending Editor Sep 23, 2013 4:01PM
This post is by Philip Moeller of partner post U.S. News & World Report.

MSN Money PartnerSince the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, Tracy Watts has become a walking encyclopedia of the incredibly complex provisions of the law.


Image: Spy (© Corbis)Yet even after three years of immersing herself in the world of Obamacare, Watts uses cheat sheets to make sure her explanations of the law are accurate. "It's way too complicated for me to remember everything," says Watts, the national health care spokeswoman for Mercer, a consulting firm that advises mostly large employers on their employee benefit needs.


If you do not have a Tracy Watts or her cheat sheets handy, there are still ways to become informed about Obamacare. Many insurance companies and health websites provide information on the law. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which does not sell health insurance or receive compensation for its recommendations, is widely recognized as having the best set of Obamacare tools. Even federal government experts within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend Kaiser tools. Another reliable source for Obamacare information is the government itself.


Here is a look at some of the most helpful online health care reform resources that consumers should have in their toolboxes:


State health insurance marketplace profiles: Obamacare may be the law of the land, but its provisions are being carried out on the state and local levels. The Kaiser Family Foundation has profiles of the new insurance exchanges that are being set up in each state. Most are being created for the states by the federal government, but a number of states have built their own exchanges. Not all state exchanges will have the same features. If you are shopping for coverage for you and your family, it's important to understand your state's exchange.


State insurance exchange subsidy calculator: One of the most helpful, yet confusing, parts of Obamacare is the complex set of tax credit subsidies for individuals buying insurance through a state exchange. Individuals who are offered group health insurance from their employers may not use the state exchanges for subsidies unless their employer's standard plan fails to cover minimum insurance requirements of the law or their incomes are too small to afford the standard plan. If you are looking for insurance in an exchange, this tool from Kaiser provides an easy way to estimate how much of a subsidy you would qualify for on a state exchange.


Status of state medicaid expansions: Obamacare's goal to secure health insurance for all Americans includes a significant expansion of Medicaid to nearly all citizens who cannot afford private health insurance and are too young to apply for Medicare. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Affordable Care Act was constitutional but that states, which pay a large portion of Medicaid costs, could not be forced to expand their Medicaid programs. The law promises to pay 100% of added state Medicaid expenses for three years and then to reduce that rate, but it would never fall below a 90% federal share. To date, about half the states have decided to expand their Medicaid programs, and half are not expanding at this time. Click on your state in this Kaiser map to see what's happening where you live.



What's in the Affordable Care Act?

The government's HealthCare.gov website provides an overview of the most important consumer features of the law. It's broken down into topics with links to more detailed explanations, including changes to rules about pre-existing conditions, keeping young adults on their family health policies up to age 26, ending lifetime limits on health insurance payments, preventive health services, access to emergency care services and how to keep using your preferred doctors.


A timeline of key features. Use this HealthCare.gov tool to see a timetable of key features of the law that have been or will be implemented.



More from U.S. News & World Report:


119Comments
Sep 23, 2013 8:26PM
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What about all the bullsh** that was written into the health care law that has NO relation to health care?   When will the American public be told about all the crap that Reid and Pelosi conspired on to TAKE from the people to pay for this disaster?  And if it is good enough for the American people , why is it not being utilized by the politicians?  The whole thing stinks to high heaven!
Sep 23, 2013 10:06PM
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Are you seeing the comments so far.  Don't forget this is on MSN. 

 

How in the world is this horrific crap getting through.  We need to GET RID OF OBAMA AND OBAMACARE.  Obama doesn't care about YOU. 

Sep 23, 2013 8:24PM
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COUNTDOWN TO DEATH PANELS! HIGHER RATES! SERVICES CUT! LONG LINES AND LONG

WAITS JUST TO SEE A DOCTOR IF THEY ALL DON'T QUIT! TAXES FEES AND FINES! BUT

OBAMA AND ALL HIS FRIENDS AND DEMONCRATS WILL STILL GET CADILLAC SERVICE!

YEAH THAT'S REALLY FAIR TO ALL OF THOSE WHO WORKED HARD TO PAY FOR OUR

INSURANCE AND NOW OBAMA IS GONNA DESTROY HEALTHCARE TO PAY FOR ALL HIS

LAZY KISS **** WELFARE FOODSTAMPING LEFT WING LIBERAL BIG NANNY STATE VOTERS!

**** YOU OBAMA YOUR NOT GETTING A FING PENNY OUT OF ME! I''M GONNA SHOW UP AT

THE EMERGENCY ROOM WITH NO ID SAY I'M AN ILLEGAL AND GET TREATED LIKE ALL

THESE ILLEGALS AND DEMOCRATS HAVE BEEN DOING FOR DECADES! GOOD ONE JAYBEE!

Sep 23, 2013 9:44PM
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If the union workers have to take Obamacrap then the govt workers should be FORCED to also. Obama is a liar, made obnoxious promises and is screwing our country. It got him elected. Sad. What is going to happen to the people on welfare (generational welfare)? No tax return money to take if they don't take govt care. All the illegals I guess will get free healthcare while the working legal class pays for it? Way to get those votes.
Sep 24, 2013 8:59AM
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Countdown to Obamacare

 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.........................Houston, we have a disaster

Sep 23, 2013 8:39PM
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Obamacare taxes our kids, and makes us pay mandate-inflated premiums for our children so the loudmouthed adult voters can get free insurance, tax credtis, free annual mammograms, copay and deductible subsidies, free birth control to screw each other, free maternity coverage, no cost pre-natal care, abortions, free annual pap smears, etc..etc..etc..This law is despicable.
Sep 23, 2013 8:21PM
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Why is congress going to use Obamacare as a leverage tool to pass a budget so the government dont shut down?? It should have nothing to do with the budget, and be voted down on its own merits

 

 

Sep 23, 2013 8:29PM
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What a catastrophe Obamacare is for the average American. Americans will be depending on others to guide them through the complexities of the act, and already there have been cases of corruption in the system and lots of room for insurance companies to sway the navigators with incentives to steer people into certain policies.. The attention span of the average American is way too short to make informed decisions on something as important as their healthcare in a few minutes they have with a navigator. If history is any indication, people choosing investment plans for a 401K in 15 minutes based on a brochure with financial highlights that don't disclose hidden fees, or people choosing a mortgage based on monthly payment only, there will be huge law suites and confusion when medical services are needed.
Sep 24, 2013 9:15AM
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It just doesn't matter.  The world is going to hell in a hand basket and has been for a long, long time.  We have been going through the same thing that most great cultures have gone through prior to their collapse, that is former agricultural workers migrating to urban areas and not being able to find sufficient employment as the wealthier citizens buy up the farm and ranch land and consolidate their holdings into vast estates and use them more and more to produce cash crops rather than food crops, anyway it just doesn't matter.  Let's just say America is in a downward spiral and has little chance of pulling out mainly due to the willful ignorance and apathy of its citizenry and the special interests of its law makers.  I'm so amazed by the bad grammar and sentence structure, not just in the comments section of these news reports, but in the news reports themselves.  The reporters are supposed to be professionals in the use of language but I see so many simple errors in their use of the English language it is disheartening.  There is so much rude and angry behavior today that it's just taken for granted and has been for decades now.  This is not to say that this is new but it is worse and it is more widely accepted.  The edges of society are becoming frayed and as the edges wear away the center will not hold.  If the past is prologue, and it usually is, our next stage of development should be some kind of military dictatorship, probably of a fascist nature most likely with religion at the heart of the movement.  Hopefully I'll be dead before then, but knowing me and the way my luck runs I'll just be a helpless very sick old man.  Again, it just doesn't matter.
Sep 24, 2013 5:49AM
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Barry's SocialistCare is, and has always been, about providing free health care for his leaches, namely blacks, paid for by those that the radical program will hurt the most, people who are not worthless deadbeats and actually pay taxes.

Sep 23, 2013 11:37PM
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DEATH PANELS ???

That doesn't sound good.

Is that where they judge whether or not to treat you based upon a complex algorithm that balances the cost of treatment with expected years of life remaining to see if it is an acceptable expense or not? And naturally these "calculations" will be based on differences in factors such as age, gender, family history and race.

Barbaric.  Reminds me of a scene from the film, "Schindler's List" where the patients were forced to run about a courtyard and judged if they were healthy enough to keep or faced special treatment.

 

If you are going to need any surgical proceedure over $10k, get it when you're young or you won't be getting it.

 

 

Sep 24, 2013 9:09AM
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All the while government is URGING states to ration care to the poor...

     February 04, 2011 from latimes.com by Noam N. Levey

    Obama administration offers states ideas on how to cut Medicaid.
    A letter to governors facing huge budget shortfalls suggests a range of Medicaid cuts,
   including removal of some people from the program.

Sep 24, 2013 10:58AM
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This is going to be an unmitigated disaster when all those unforseen and unintended consequences start kicking in and showing up.
Sep 24, 2013 2:19AM
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"What you don't know about Obamacare could kill you" Look it up on youtube if you think you are such an expert and love Obamacare.
Sep 24, 2013 11:41AM
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In just a few days the American people are going to find out exactly what Ms. Nancy said , you have to pass the bill to see whats in it, well get ready America your about to find and your not going to like it

All of you young people who think it great will see when you try to go to your Dr. and find you have to pay the first five or six thousand dollars first then oblama will pick up the balance for you remember that come 2014.
Sep 24, 2013 10:19AM
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So where are all the Obama supporters now? How In the world did this man get re-elected so he could put forth this crap? My insurance just went up another $50 per month and now I will have to select a new plan. (I'm wondering what I will be losing)
Sep 24, 2013 11:19AM
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Its very simple, Obamacare is a tax. Obama could not pass a tax on insurance so he reorganizes the insurance industry, says its for all the poor little children, makes it mandatory,  controls it with the IRS, collects from the citizens and the insurance companies, increases the scope of care but lets the quality of care go as low as it can go, and the government gives nothing back to the people it collects all that revenue from.


Now most of you will end up part time in the next ten years. You will no longer receive health care benefits from work so you will have to pay for all your premiums yourself. You will no longer have the group rate and it will cost you more than your car payment every month. If you don't pay your premium you will be fined. This fine will increase every time you violate this law. This insures that Obama gets his cut every time.

Sep 24, 2013 11:41AM
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If nobody wants it, including Obama's own peeps, they why in the world should it be shoved down our throats??  When did this become a dictatorship? 65% of the country is against it and another 24% is skeptical of it??? Barry, what in the world are you thinking?

 

I think that this may be one of those 6th grade situations where Obama is saying ..."if I can play, then I'm taking my ball and going home!!!"

Sep 24, 2013 10:50AM
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Whoopee! A society that's entitled to (free) healthcare , free BOphones , free foodstamp cards , with only 1.8 GDP (at best), 90 million people with no job , and only part time job creation , no problem . Oct 1 st , will come and go , as any other day , for unemployed Americans . Who cares ? I don't . The state I live in , won't set up ACABOcare centers . Good ! Our state understands , It's a huge pipe dream . Let Earache Holder come and get us !
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