CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) – Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is heading into week two. The first week of enrollment was met with confusion and had many people in the Lowcountry feeling lost.
"I think it could be a good thing but I don't know all the ends and outs of it," Charleston resident Robbie Lawson said.
Lawson said he does not have health insurance and he's not alone – the U.S. Census Bureau reports around 750,000 South Carolinians do not have healthcare.
Some people's top questions on Obamacare include costs of plans, fines for not having insurance, and where to find the exchanges.
Dr. William P. Moran is a professor of medicine at MUSC and has studied the Affordable Care Act extensively. He helped to answer some of the top Obamacare questions we found from Lowcountry residents.
"Patients have questions as far as will clinic and physician prices rise will that effect them as far as their co-pay is deductibles percentages," said Sandra, who works as a nurse.
"I think we will see costs at least stabilize," said Dr. William Moran, who works at Medical University Hospital. "We have more than enough money in healthcare to provide healthcare to every American. It's just a matter of getting the waste out of the system."
Another common question is about the penalties for not having coverage with the new law in place.
"It's confusing. Actually, I was told that you have to have it and if you don't have it you will be getting fined or something like that," Robbie Lawson said,
According to healthcare officials, adults who don't sign up for insurance can face a $95 fine starting next year, but Dr. Moran cautions shoppers that you do have some time.
"People don't have to do it today. There are six months that the exchanges are open and you can take your time to look at the products," Moran said. "Basically, there is platinum, gold, silver, and bronze and they all have different mixtures of co-payments, deductibles, and services covered."
South Carolina opted out of designing its own marketplace exchange, so those who don't have healthcare will shop for care and choose between the federally designed exchanges, Moran said.
The U.S. Census shows that about 48.6 million Americans don't have healthcare. Moran said the new system will surely have some kinks starting out, but that the overhaul makes for good policy.
"What we are doing in ACA is creating a level playing field so now if someone goes to the emergency department, we the insured are not paying for people who don't have insurance," he said.
For more information on the federal health insurance marketplace where you can buy insurance coverage click here or call 1-(800)-318-2596.
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