Health & Lifestyles
You got health care act questions, we'll get answers
Signing up for even run-of-the mill health insurance is an arduous experience for many Americans. It's an activity we dread nearly as much as filing annual income taxes. Now, as major pieces of the national Affordable Care Act are set to launch Jan. 1, millions of Tampa-area residents are more anxious than ever. They're unsure exactly what this health reform - known both affectionately and derisively as Obamacare - means to them. Will they have to pay a penalty if they don't sign up for insurance? Where can they find information relevant to Florida residents?What exactly will Obamacare mean to their family budget's bottom line? Politics have dominated the conversation before, during and since the health law's 2010 passage. It has been argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the halls of Florida's Legislature. This week, U.S. Senators are arguing over yet another detail. But all this bickering doesn't answer the real questions consumers, business owners and families have. If anything, it's adding to the confusion swirling around this fall's implementation of online health insurance exchanges, also known as the marketplace. The commercial insurance plans that will be open to consumers through the marketplace starting Oct. 1 are designed for about 20 percent of the local and national population - people who don't have health insurance or those who already buy their own coverage. About half of all Florida residents sign up for health plans through their employer and won't need to access the marketplace at all. Still, a lot of people with insurance have questions. As do those who live with a chronic medical condition and worry about being able to access the doctors and medications that keep them going. We want you to get straight answers for you. Go to TBO.com/health and click on the Healthcare Q&A box. Submit your questions about the exchange and other changes related to how the health law affects you, and we'll ask local, state and national experts to break down what it all means. Then we'll share what we find in regular updates in the Tribune and on TBO.com. Our goal is to strip away the politics and make sense of this law for you. So start asking.