Understanding the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, is a complicated law with many parts. We're working to cover the changes in health insurance and healthcare which the law has set in motion, and explain how those changes will impact people in the Walla Walla Valley.

This page is a collection of articles we've done about the ACA, as well as links to other sources that explain the law and what it means for you. We'll be updating this page regularly as more information is published. If you have questions or things you'd like to see here, email us and let us know.

Obamacare 101

If you know nothing about the ACA and aren't quite sure where to start, these resources can help.

Forbes has put together a Cliff Notes version of the law, which goes through each major section and summarizes what is does.

This video from the Kaiser Family Foundation explains the changes to health insurance markets clearly.

Separating fact from fiction with the ACA can be difficult, because so much information is floating around. Julie Rovner, who covers health policy for NPR, wrote a list of the the most common myths about the ACA which can help if you're not sure what to believe.

In the Valley: hopes, fears and questions

U-B reporters Sheila Hagar and Rachel Alexander decided to make a video survey of how Walla Wallans see the Affordable Care Act. With health insurance exchanges set to go live on Oct. 1, it seemed like a good idea to help understand questions and concerns. What was found Thursday afternoon in downtown Walla Walla was a surprise. Many people expressed much confusion about just what health care reform looks like and how it will affect them. Some were despairing of ever figuring things out. And some people have deep feelings about a perceived loss of their rights as Americans. A few people said they had not given the Affordable Care Act a second thought. Four people surveyed had strong, informed opinions, but declined to put their thoughts on public view. One thing is for certain, we’re all on a learning curve about the new health care universe.

Insurance exchanges

By now, you've probably heard something about health insurance exchanges. In a nutshell, exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for health insurance plans.

Exchanges will have plans from multiple insurers available at several levels of coverage: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Platinum plans offer the most coverage and are more expensive, while bronze plans cover less and are cheaper. Because plans are standardized (all bronze plans have to follow a certain set of requirements for coverage and benefits), exchanges are supposed to make it easier for consumers to compare prices between different insurance companies.

Our overview of the insurance exchange options which will be available for Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Umatilla counties is here.

We've also written about local health insurance navigators: individuals who will be trained to help people sign up for insurance coverage.