Expert Panel Answers Oklahoman's Questions Over ACA

Wednesday, March 19th 2014, 11:01 pm
By: News On 6

With the deadline looming to enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, a national outreach group was in Tulsa helping uninsured Oklahomans. The Equality Center teamed up with White House representatives and Out2Enroll, a group designated to educate members of the LGBT community about the ACA, to host a town hall.

Dozens packed the center to ask questions about the health insurance marketplace.

"At enrollment events, they mostly want to know can they afford to pay the premiums, are they required to have insurance," Donna Orban, a navigator with the Community Service Council of Tulsa, explained.

3/19/2014 Related Story: White House Advisor Speaks In Tulsa, Encouraging To Enroll In ACA

Many wanted to know what type of financial assistance is available. One person in the audience asked, "Could you give us more information on where those income brackets lie and how that process works?"

"Because of the issues around Medicaid expansion, they actually start at 100-percent of the poverty level, which is about $11,000 for an individual. They go on a sliding scale all the way up to 400-percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $40,000," Kellan Baker, Associate Director with the Center for American Progress, answered.

20-percent, or 646,527, Oklahomans are uninsured. Only 24,667 have enrolled through the ACA since the marketplace opened.

Since the Equality Center hosted the forum, many wanted to know how new healthcare laws will impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.

"I'm going to ask some different questions about what is being done to include trans-inclusive healthcare and what more work is going to be going on for the Obama Administration," TU student Emma Todd said.

White House Advisor Gautam Raghauan explained insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on gender identity.

An American Indian, who is also a veteran, addressed the panel, wanting to know if she needs to enroll in the ACA.

"You are not required to do anything at all. If you're happy with the coverage that you have, you don't need to make any changes in terms of modifying your VA," a panelist said.

As a final push to get Oklahomans enrolled in the ACA, navigators will be out for "Marketplace Monday" on March 24. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., navigators will be at Zarrow Regional Library, Hicks Recreation Center, Thornton YMCA and Morton Comprehensive Health Services.