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article imageIowa's innovative approach to Affordable Care Act rollout Special

By Ini Augustine     Jan 29, 2014 in Health
Des Moines - The options can be confusing, and Americans are still unclear about what their responsibilities are under the Affordable Care Act. Iowa's innovative approach could help.
The room is filled with neighbors, ranging from the young couple in the back row to the group of seniors in the front. Families and small business owners gathered at Missionary Faith Baptist Church to discuss the implications of the Affordable Care Act. ISED Ventures, an Iowa Non-profit, partnered with the Iowa Insurance Commission to educate Iowans on their options under the ACA.
Called Operation Outreach, the program is a boots on the ground campaign to educate Iowans the old fashioned way: by talking to them. Called Community Conversations, these free, public meetings give attendees an accessible way to ask questions about the ACA, and how it might affect them.
Pastor Toussaint Cheatom  Community Organizer and Trained Assister.
Pastor Toussaint Cheatom, Community Organizer and Trained Assister.
Pastor Toussaint Cheatom, trained assister and DMPS school board member, opened the meeting. “Everyone here knows me. I’m about taking advantage of opportunities, and the Affordable Care Act is an opportunity to increase our blessings as a community,” said Cheatom . “This is our opportunity to protect our families financially, and have health insurance that’s affordable.”
Pastor Cheatom welcomes Nate Kapke  of the Iowa Insurance Commission
Pastor Cheatom welcomes Nate Kapke, of the Iowa Insurance Commission
Nathan Kapke  of the Iowa Insurance Commission  answers questions from the audience.
Nathan Kapke, of the Iowa Insurance Commission, answers questions from the audience.
After a warm welcome and introduction from Pastor Cheatom, Nate Kapke from the Iowa Insurance Commission took questions from the audience. He covered several topics, including how the individual mandate works under the Affordable Care Act. Under this portion of the law, every American citizen or legal resident age 18+ is required to have minimum essential health coverage (known as minimum essential coverage) for each month, qualify for an exemption, or make a payment when filing his or her federal income tax return.
The options can be confusing, and many at the meeting seemed unclear about what their responsibilities are under the Affordable Care Act. Part of the confusion surrounded the use of the terms coverage and insurance interchangeably.
Community members participate in a Q & A session on the Affordable Care Act.
Community members participate in a Q & A session on the Affordable Care Act.
“ Do people who have Medicaid need to sign up?” asked Randy Whitfield, owner of Whitfield’s Lawn & Garden in Des Moines. “What about my company? Are we required to provide health insurance to my contractors?” Under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, neither people with Medicaid, nor small businesses under 50 employees are required to obtain major medical coverage. Clearly, there is much more educating that needs to happen before these and other questions are answered.
Helga Johnson  Program Director with ISED Ventures speaks on her personal health insurance experienc...
Helga Johnson, Program Director with ISED Ventures speaks on her personal health insurance experience
Helga Johnson, Program Director for Operation Outreach, illustrated some of the benefits of the ACA with her own personal story. “ For years, I had always received my health insurance through my job. Once I was laid off, my cobra payments were over $1,000 per month, almost my entire monthly income. For the first time, I was uninsured. Through Healthcare.gov, my payments will be much lower, and more affordable. She continued, “Talking affordable, my mom as a single, 52 year old female, earning $8.50 per hour was able to get a silver level plan for just $61.00 per month. Now I see that as affordable. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance was not affordable given on average a policy would have cost her about $350 per month.
Community Conversations will be held throughout Polk County at churches, grocery stores, events, and other accessible locations during open enrollment, which lasts until March 31st, 2014. The next Community Conversation will be held February 13th 6:30 p.m. at Forest avenue Library. Call ISED Ventures at 515-283-0940 , or visit www.isedventures.org/about_us/events/ for more information.
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