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‘Obamacare’ Seminar In Plainview

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — or “Obamacare” as it has become commonly known — is finally in full swing nationwide, with most major provisions of the healthcare reform law slated to be phased in by Jan. 2014. The new law, signed by President Barack Obama in March of 2010, aims to improve the quality and affordability of health insurance.

But despite the heavy national attention the Affordable Care Act is receiving, there are still a great many people who remain in the dark as to what changes they can expect to take place in the national health care landscape. Talk of high prices and dropped policies have many families wondering if the new law will cause more harm than good.

New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine has partnered with the Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Services Network, a non-profit organization based in Garden City, Bayshore, and Sag Harbor, to provide a series of free public seminars in order to educate the public on the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.

At a seminar held recently in the auditorium at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, Lavine noted that the Act will help to make quality health care more assessable to the public, while helping to ease the financial burden felt by other members of society who have to assist the uninsured with their tax dollars.

“It’s in all of our interests to help our citizens to participate in this program; Obamacare is very ambitious,” he said. “We’ve all got an interest in health care, and one of our great challenges in America is that one out of five people have no insurance whatsoever. But what happens is when those who have no insurance become ill, there is still a cost. Those of us with insurance end up having to pay for them through higher insurance premiums, and the tax payers end up paying for them through governmentally sponsored programs that underwrite their care. It’s called Disproportionate Share of Health Care.”

Elizabeth Munsky, Health Insurance Enrollment Coordinator for LI GLBT Services, headed up the evening’s seminar, and said she was there to dispel a lot of the myths that people are pasing around about Obama’s new health care reform law.

“A lot of people are very confused about how Obamacare is actually going to affect them, and many thinking it’s going to affect them negatively,” she said. “There are large tax credits out there. I will also be going over what the new, essential benefits will be included in everybody’s health care, because thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are things that have been mandated that have to be covered by health insurance that were almost never covered by any plans prior.”

Among the newly-mandated additions to health care plans under the Affordable Care Act, according to Munsky, are mental health, pediatric dental and vision, newborn and maternity care, free contraceptives and birth control, and a host of free preventative care services, such annual wellness checkups, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, colonoscopies, and more.

“There are over 50 preventative cares that are now free,” Munsky said. “There’s no co-pay or anything.”

Munsky explained that the primary misconception that people have about the Affordable Care Act — that people are being unceremoniously dropped from their pre-existing health care plans for no real reason — is not as black and white as it seems.

“The reason that these insurance plans are being dropped is because they do not cover these essential new benefits that are now mandated,” she said. “It’s not that they’re being dropped by their insurance company and can no longer get insurance. They just have to enroll in a policy that will benefit them more. I’m here to explain that Obamacare isn’t just some willy-nilly thing that Obama came up with. This is here to benefit the entire population.”

While currently possessing a comprehensive medical insurance plan himself, Kevin Cox of Plainview attended the seminar in his role as a Good Samaritan; he was doing some research to help out a few uninsured friends, he said.

“I know someone whose son’s insurance plan is about to end, and he needs to pick up a good individual policy, and the good thing about Obamacare is that is allows you to shop around a whole bunch of different plans,” he said. “I came here tonight to get some education on this so I can understand the process, so if my friends are interested in doing this, I can at least give them some guidance.”

Plainview resident Gena Chinea said that she finds herself in a scary situation — her health care policy was recent cancelled, and she came to the seminar to figure out what her next course of action should be.

“I came down because I wanted to learn more about what the options are, especially in New York State,” she said. “I recently lost my health care insurance so I need to start looking for a new one, and this seminar was very helpful in letting me know what my options are, and how to go about picking the right plan for me.”

To find out more about LI GLBT Services Network and their schedule of Affordable Care Act seminars, visit: www.liglbtnetwork.org.