Sorting through health care confusion - KOTA Territory News

Sorting through health care confusion


More than a month after the exchange opened there are still lots of questions, and not just about getting the new federal government's health care website to work.

"People don't quite understand the tax penalty, if they have to buy insurance, if they don't have to buy insurance, and probably the biggest one is there's only that open enrollment when you can actually buy insurance," said Wyoming insurance commissioner Tom Hirsig.

Hirsig was in Sheridan Thursday morning to discuss health care changes.

Clancy Phillips, an accountant for a local small business, showed up with a few questions of his own.

"The main concern is if we're going to have to provide health insurance for all employees in the future. Also, trying to be prepared if our health insurance costs are going to increase," said Phillips.

Hirsig was able to explain many of the basics to the audience, like the differences between the platinum, gold, silver, and bronze plans.

"Basically how much the insurance company pays and how much you would pay out-of-pocket. For the platinum, the insurance company pays the most. Those premiums will be adjusted accordingly, so the platinum plan's going to cost a lot more than the bronze plan," said Hirsig.

And the impact on Medicare.

"They don't need to make any changes to their plans. The Affordable Care Act has no direct impact on the medicare population," said Hirsig.

Phillips plans on doing more research and says the Affordable Care Act has good intentions, but he isn't optimistic about its future.

"I am very worried that it's going to blow up. I think Congress had the opportunity to do something really great with it and dropped the ball," said Phillips.

Hirsig also offered some tips for people having trouble signing up on He suggested calling 1-800-318-2596, or calling 2-1-1 in Wyoming to find a health care navigator who can help guide applicants through the sign up process. More information on navigators is also at

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