For those seeking a better understanding of what the Affordable Care Act means to them, there is an app, and a website, for that — Obamacare411.
Certified insurance consultant Antonio Paulo Pinto, in partnership with Small Business for a Healthy Connecticut, created Obamacare411 to help individuals and small businesses improve their understanding of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, will affect them personally.
“The media talks about the effects [the ACA] will have on everybody but people,” Pinto said in reference to the lack of understanding among individuals, families, and small businesses when it comes to Obamacare.
Four in 10 people reported that they are confused about the ACA, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, and another poll found that the majority, 57 percent, say they do not know how the ACA will impact them.
Pinto explained that consumers often hear about the effects health care reform are expected to have on big companies, but not the local “mom-and-pop” stores.
“We’ve seen a huge void in information around healthcare and until the fed, the state, and the insurance carriers get something rolling themselves we’ve decided to fill the gap with a website, an iPhone app and Kindle books,” Kevin Galvin, the founding chair of Small Business for a Healthy Connecticut, said of Obamacare411.
The Obamacare411 iPhone app and website provide general information for both individuals and small businesses, as well as a calculator that allows users to calculate the cost of their monthly payments for health insurance after subsidies, based on household income and family size.
The Kindle books, on the other hand, are intended to play the role of a “self-help guide” for understanding and shopping for health insurance, according to Pinto. There is an individual and family guide, as well as a small business guide.
The guides are broken down into three different parts. The first is “The Basics of Health Insurance,” which provides a brief history of insurance and how it got where it is today. The second part provides an overview of Obamacare, and the third part resembles a “frequently asked questions” page and intends to inform readers on how to shop for an insurance plan.
Pinto authored both guides and said he drew from more than 12 years of experience selling insurance in the effort.
“We’re not trying to explain every piece of the law — just what it means to individuals and businesses with fewer than 50 employees,” Pinto said.
People are most interested in how much money they will pay in monthly premiums and co-pays for doctor visits
“This is a resource center for people,” Pinto added.
One of the most controversial parts of Obamacare is the health insurance mandate, which will enact a penalty or tax for anyone who opts out of buying health insurance. That part of the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Individuals and small businesses without insurance will be able to buy it through something called an exchange, which will be a virtual marketplace where consumers will be able to compare plans and pick the one that fits their needs.
The exchanges will start enrolling individuals into plans this October.
“Six months is not too far away,” Pinto said in regard to why consumers should start using Obamacare411 to weigh their options before October rolls around.
The app’s slogan is, “Providing the information you need, not opinions,” and Pinto explained that he has done everything to avoid expressing whether Obamacare is right or wrong. Instead, he wants the app to show people, “this is what it is, this is what it means,” he said.