Affordable Care Act: Plans will cover same basic services and some free preventative care

Affordable Care Act caps out of pocket expenses

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Nearly 300-thousand people are uninsured in Palm Beach County. Starting October 1, everyone will be able to sign up for insurance. Even if you have insurance, the Affordable Care Act may impact you.

The Affordable Care Act became law 3 years ago. We're now one week away from sweeping changes, and there is confusion.

"I really don't know a whole lot about it because I really can't believe this is happening," said Michael Chaney.

It took the government 974 pages to explain what's happening. That's four times as many pages as the 2014 budget.

"It's not just a little gray area. It's all gray to me," said Jeremy Simpson.

Whether you are uninsured and unsure or insured and find it impossible to understand, don't worry. Experts are ready to help you make sense of the 414,592 word law.

"I don't think I've ever seen a program with this much complexity, with this much regulation, this much rules, this much due in such a short time that's so important," said Attorney John Foley of Legal Aid.

Every health plan will offer basic coverage benefits like lab work, prescriptions, ER services, or maternity care. The government calls these essential health benefits, and you can read the entire coverage list by clicking here .  Bitly link: http://1.usa.gov/1dEw56r

Some preventative care will be free like cholesterol screening or the flu shot. You can read the entire list by clicking here .  Bitly link: http://1.usa.gov/1dEwbeb

You won't pay a co-payment or coinsurance for these services even if you haven't reached your deductible. A network provider must provide the services for the fees to be covered.

Every US citizen will be eligible.

That's a big change for Helen Brown.

"I was very sick. So I had pre-existing conditions and no-one would sign me," said Brown.

Brown hasn't had insurance for a year and a half. She's been relying on reduced health care through FoundCare , a community health center. She still has overwhelming medical debt, and the Health Insurance Marketplace should prevent that from continuing.

"Last month I was hospitalized and I was 20 days in the hospital and my bill was $270,000 with no health insurance. It's devastating. That's my mortgage," said Brown.

The new plans will cap out of pocket expenses at $6,350 for an individual and a family won't pay more than $12,700 out of pocket.

Helen still has some concerns as so much is still unknown, but she hopes for a brighter future for the next generation.

"This has been the worst fight of my life, this last year and a half. And thank God if she would never have to deal with this. It would be wonderful," said Brown as she held her daughter.

Every plan will have different deductibles and co-pays depending on the one you choose.

In Palm Beach County, there will be 86 plans to choose from.

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The Consumer Watchdog is digging through the law and talking to experts to offer you health care help all this week. We'll talk about the plans, the impact, and answer your questions during a phone bank on Friday. If you have a question, let Jenn know on Facebook or Twitter . You can also email: consumerwatchdog@wptv.com

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