Robert Fullingim / Staff Writer

Beginning Oct. 1, the first of several phases enacting the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, begins with the opening of Calif’s healthcare exchange called Covered California. The act will give all legal residents access to individual health care plans and, depending on their income, they will receive tax credits to help pay for the cost.

A fully covered person will have coverage in 10 basic categories. Covered California calls these “essential health benefits” and they cover things from prescription drug coverage to ambulatory services and hospitalization. Also, Dental and Vision insurance is only available to children through the exchange, not adults.

The tax credits given to help pay the monthly cost of the insurance depends on the income of the person seeking coverage and the monthly cost depends on the amount of coverage that is chosen. The website says, “All health insurance newly sold to individuals and small businesses must be classified as one of the four levels of coverage – bronze, silver, gold or platinum.”

The difference is the lower the premium paid every month, the less the insurance company covers when insurance is needed. With the bronze plan, a person pays 40 percent of the insurance costs and insurance pays 60 percent. Silver is 70-30, Gold is 80-20 and platinum is 90-10.

One new benefit offered by the act is pre-existing conditions do not have to wait through an exclusionary period and benefits cannot be denied for any pre-existing conditions.

Previously, when applying for a new insurance policy, companies would exclude coverage for any injuries or sicknesses for up to 12 months before giving financial support, or deny a policy altogether, but no longer with the Affordable Care Act.One issue that many people have with the act is that it now mandates that every legal resident must own a valid health insurance policy by March 31, 2014, or be given a tax penalty. In spite of this, Mysti King, 40, a psychology major said, “I think the Affordable Care Act is a great plan, I just think people are misinformed.

When they have to start looking into it themselves they may actually like what they see.” King is a mother of two and has a job that does not offer health insurance, so she is looking forward to an opportunity to find affordable coverage for her family.

Although LBCC has a health services office, the services there do not satisfy Obamacare mandates. Tina Cassar, an RN at the LAC said, “We are like an Urgent Care, not a doctor’s office. We can give prescriptions and we can deal with things that happen on campus and we can also give referrals, but for insurance coverage we are still directing all students to coveredca.com.”