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My Turn: Uninsured? Today’s the day to change that

Starting today, people can sign up to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. This means you and your family cannot be denied coverage, there will be more affordable options and you may qualify for up-front tax credits that could reduce prices.

The new law doesn’t affect the benefits of those who have Medicare, and if you have employer coverage your health care likely stays the same. But for the 125,645 currently uninsured New Hampshire residents, this presents an opportunity.

There has been ample political hoopla relating to this law, but let’s instead try to answer some basic questions about what it means for New Hampshire citizens.

First of all, what’s going to be available? Starting today, you can go online to to shop for a health insurance plan in the New Hampshire “marketplace.” The health insurance you are offered there will cost a certain amount per month (a “premium”) plus a certain amount out of pocket (“coinsurance”) every time you get medical care. There is a minimum (a “deductible”) you have to pay each year before your insurer will pay for the rest of your medical care, but there is also a cap on how much you will ever have to pay in any year. Coverage will start on Jan. 1, 2014.

What you are buying is insurance that allows you to see doctors, get hospital care, prescription drugs, dental care and other kinds of scans and treatments from MRIs to surgeries. Under the rules of Obamacare, you can’t be thrown off this insurance if you get sick and you can’t be denied coverage if you’re sick now. The insurance company also can’t put a limit on how much they spend on you, and you are guaranteed to get covered for all basic services. None of this was true before.

Why might this be affordable for you? Because Obamacare includes tax credits and limits how much you have to pay based on your income. For example, let’s say that you are single, 27 years old and make $34,000 a year. You will be able to buy insurance in the online marketplace for $272 a month with a $2,500 deductible. If you make less, like $11,000 a year, you could have monthly premiums of just $18 and a deductible as low as $500. The costs are more in some situations, less in others. You will have to select what is affordable for you.

Why is it a good idea to have health insurance in the first place? Because it not only means you can get medical care that keeps you healthy or treats you when you get sick, it also means that if you do get sick or injured, you won’t go bankrupt – your insurance will cover almost all of the costs of your treatment.

Remember, half of the bankruptcies in America happen when people get sick. Emergency rooms may have to take you if are sick or injured, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get billed for thousands of dollars later. Health insurance means you don’t have to worry about that. With the plan’s cap on your costs, an individual won’t pay more than $6,300 in any year, even if they have a difficult and expensive medical condition.

How can you find out which health insurance plan makes sense for you and your family, or if you qualify for tax credits? You can call 800-318-2596 to connect to a “navigator” who can walk you through the application process and answer questions. You can go online to to shop for insurance, learn more, or chat online directly with an expert assistant. Soon you will also be able to get information from local organizations that are trained to help, including the New Hampshire Bi-State Primary Care Association.

I urge everyone who doesn’t have insurance or who has bare-bones insurance to look into this between today and Dec. 15. Health care coverage helps individuals, families and our economy. It protects folks physically and financially while it gives everyone the same access to doctors and medicines that insured folks now receive.

Rather than arguing about shutting down government or defaulting on our national debt obligations, let’s use this opportunity for many working people in New Hampshire to finally afford health insurance. If you or a loved one are uninsured, call the 800-318-2596 number or go online to .

(Sylvia Larsen of Concord is the Democratic leader of the New Hampshire Senate.)

Legacy Comments11

California’s Obamacare fails to enroll a single customer Daily Caller, by Neil Munro

From that same article: "of that 500,000 visitors, only about 7,100 people submitted applications, said the KUSI-CA anchor." So on Day 1, 7100 filed applications. The fact that those applications had not yet been processed has nothing to do with people's interest in or need for affordable insurance. The bugs will be worked out, probably very quickly. There's still plenty of time for people to sign up.

Did you also know that the California exchange is run by a Democrat front group and that they lied about the number of initial hits on the first day? Oh, I mean they reported 10X the hits in error, um, errr..... the story I like best is the one law student who was paying $39 per month and found out that he is eligible for 30 years old???? A student????? Isn't it grand that all of us can now chip in and support law students?

Yeah, good luck! An insurance expert was on the news last night and they told the story that those rates you will be quoted are not the actual rate in the end, that it will be much more of a premium if you actually use the insurance. Larsen mentions bankruptcy, often that is the best remedy for people to get a fresh start but few people go bankrupt because they have health bills, that is an old wives tale. You can make small payments for the rest of your life if necessary and then hospitals write it off OR they will put a lien on your home. Bankruptcy is the remedy to get rid of the debt but they can't take your home.

The Democratic economy is why the stock market is doing well. But not for the reason you think John. Investors are investing in stocks, not expanding or hiring. So the stock market is where they are putting their money they have been hoarding.. And that money is not necessarily going to American companies that they are investing in. They are also investing in overseas companies. The jobs being produced are 77% part time jobs in low paying service jobs like retail, food etc. The ratio of full time vs part time jobs created is not a good sign as far as growing the economy. Part time jobs indicate that business is still not expanding or confident about the economy. But you can believe what you want. Economics is not a subject that the left know much about. That is why they champion big govt and socialism.

Mr. RabbitNH: I agree with much but not all of what you wrote. I'm just tired of reading Sail's old tripe, that seeks to blame "ObamaKare" and Democrats for everything that's wrong, when, in my opinion, Republicans are the bigger -- but not the only -- problem.

I do not feel that Sail's posts are tripe. I do see a lot of folks who do not prove his stats wrong though. He does provide a lot of information that many folks do not know about. The truth is that most folks are not very informed, they rely on sound bytes and have no clue about debt ceilings, printing money, corrupt politicians or the economy. The lure of something that is free is always a mistake. We use to be more skeptical as a society and asked questions. We do not anymore. We just accept the carrots we are offered and trust that we are not being had.

Thanks, Senator, I have good insurance so I haven't kept up with the details of Obamacare (the time will come when Republicans will rue the day they coined that term), but as I read your column I realized I have a family member who might well benefit from the program. I'm going to share your column with her.

"tax credits" - those are always the 1st things the low information voter thinks about when they drive to their part time job caused by ObamaKare and the democrat economy

That's the Democratic economy that has seen the stock market roughly double since President Bush left office, right? And the one that has produced regular monthly job gains vice the tremendous job losses we experienced at the end of Bush's time in office. Don't you get tired flogging the same old dead horse? Your arms should be worn out by now, I'm surprised you can still pound your keyboard.

Obama and the democrats now have the prestige of lowering the employment participation rate to be lower than that of dismal Jimmy Carter era. America is just booming - NOT

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