Local agents advise consumers to start studying healthcare optio - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Local agents advise consumers to start studying healthcare options


President Obama announced Monday that he will be making multiple speeches during the week, highlighting benefits of his healthcare plan that will go into effect in January.

The announcement comes in the midst of a showdown between Republicans in Washington, who are attempting to defund the program by the end of September.

Insurance agents in East Texas said that, while they have done all the training they need to be ready for the change, details for the new plans are still up in the air just days before they are supposed to go on the market.

"We have been going to seminars and webinars," said Mark Everett of Hilliard Box Insurance. "We've spent literally hundreds of hours over the past eight to ten months trying to learn the complex rules of the new law."

"We're like that kid that's about to turn sixteen," said Kimberly Braly of Threlkeld & Company Insurance. "We've had driver's ed. We know what kind of car we want. We're just ready for the day we turn sixteen and let's go. We are prepared as we can be at this point."

But with less than a week until the plans are supposed to hit the marketplace, the agents said they still don't know what they will be selling.

"I don't believe it's going to be ready," Everett said. "I don't think the insurance carriers are quite ready. Their rates and plans have yet to be approved."

"It is frustrating for us because we don't know and people are looking to us for guidance," Braly said. "We want to be that person that's going to help them but we don't know at this point. Hopefully in a couple weeks that will change."

A Washington Post/ABC News poll last week showed 62% of Americans feel they do not have the information they need to understand the changes. When asked about how they feel the new law will affect the overall healthcare system, 19% thought it would improve, 36% said it would make the system worse, 39% believed it would have no effect and 6% said they did not have an opinion.

"There's going to be some rate shock, especially for younger  people, people in their 20's and 30's" Everett said. "We might see some slight rate decreases for people in their late 50's and early 60's."

Local agents said until those rates are released, consumers will just have to wait for the October 1st deadline.

"We all think that's going to be kind of a madhouse day," Braly said. "It's going to be kind of the April 15th for CPA's."

The federal government has set up a website for consumers to understand their options and the new law here. Open enrollment for the federal exchange begins October 1st. Portions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, will go into effect January 1, 2014.

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