Health
1:18 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Deadline Looms to Comply With the Affordable Care Act

Federal officials are making a final push to increase enrollment in the health insurance marketplace.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Affordable Care Act will help farmers and residents in rural America.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Affordable Care Act will help farmers and residents in rural America.
Credit U.S. Department of Agriculture

People without insurance have until March 31 to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Health & Human Services says almost a million people signed up last month for private health insurance under the new law. The total to date is around 4.2 million.  In North Carolina, more than 200,000 people have selected a health insurance policy.

Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said the new system will have a big impact on rural communities.

“It’s important for folks in rural areas to understand that under the old system of healthcare costs, people in rural areas paid more out of pocket expenses for their healthcare costs, they had a higher level of uninsured folks, their hospitals and clinics didn't have the certainty of payment, and so it was harder for them to stay open or provide access to a wide range of services,” said Vilsack.

“Under the Affordable Care Act, and more people will become insured, and less uninsured, and see less out of pocket expenditures. Rural folks are going to be better served by this system,” Vilsack added.

Vilsack say many farm and rural residents will qualify for tax credits under the law to help recover a portion of the premiums.

But not everyone agrees that the Affordable Care Act will improve the nation’s healthcare system or decrease costs in the end. Critics say the law raises taxes, overwhelms the healthcare system and is forcing millions of people to lose their current coverage because their plans do not meet the minimum requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, several churches and organizations in the Triad are hosting enrollment information sessions this week to help people through the enrollment process.

The Greensboro Public Library is set to host a health care navigator to work Fridays at the Central Library on North Church Street. Community groups such as the League of Women Voters are also sharing information about the health care act throughout March at some library locations.