63
      Friday
      82 / 68
      Saturday
      83 / 64
      Sunday
      85 / 67

      Breaking down the costs of the Affordable Care Act

      The most expensive place to go to seek health care is the emergency room.

      It's time to evaluate your healthcare insurance.

      In less than two weeks, you'll have the option to choose which plan is best for you regardless of your job, pre-existing health conditions or income.

      The new Marketplace hits the Web Oct. 1, a site that allows you to search for the most affordable healthcare.

      Breaking down the costs can get complicated and many people you talk to won't have an exact answer. What we've discovered is that no one has the answer.

      Here's what we do know.

      Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, an estimated 30 million Americans will have health insurance previously denied to them for a variety of reasons.

      Click here to read more about the Marketplace and here to learn if you're eligible for coverage.

      Some health providers and the federal government disagree about what it will cost to insure the previously uninsured.

      Where the federal dollars go now

      "The most expensive place to go to seek health care is the emergency room," Stephene Moore, the regional director of Health and Human Services said.

      For nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, the ER is their only option.

      "They have to receive care. Those hospitals receive federal money, for charity care, to help pay for that care for the uninsured," Ryan Barker, VP of Health Policy at the Mo. Dept. for Health said.

      A shift in funds

      The federal government says the Affordable Care Act will not add to the federal deficit but rather shift the funding to better uses.

      "If we are reducing the number of uninsured by 20, 30, 40 million, we don't need all that federal dollars for charity care. That charity care dollars are being shifted to help pay for things like tax credits, the subsidies, Medicaid expansion," Barker said.

      Looking into the future of the ACA

      "In the end, it's so worth it to have people be able to sleep well at night knowing that they won't be hit with a medical bill that could take them under," Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Exec. Dir. of Healthcare for All in Massachusetts said.

      Slemmer comes from Massachusetts where 96 percent of its residents are insured, including 99 percent of children. The state implemented a law similar to the Affordable Care Act in 2006 signed by then Governor Mitt Romney.

      Slemmer said many people then voiced concerns about the potential for insurance rate spikes.

      Will my insurance premium go up?

      "Health insurance rates actually went down. So that individuals and some small businesses had significant savings based on the fact that there were more people to insure and they had access to better services than what they had before we implemented the law," Slemmer said.

      She's says the state is just now starting to see a difference in the number of ER visits. She expects that number to drop significantly with more reform in the state's healthcare delivery. That would include additional walk-in clinics and longer hours at the doctor's office.

      Not all doctors agree this will work

      "You'd like to believe you're going to reduce the number of emergency room visits, you're going to reduce the length of stays, keep people out of the hospital which is going to reduce costs. Some of that will happen, but I just don't know whether from a bookkeeping perspective it's going to balance it out," Dr. Lent Johnson, medical director said.

      Dr. Lent Johnson with the Hannibal Clinic says it could cost some physicians their jobs.

      "I think one of the unintentional consequences of this is, you're seeing nationwide, significant consolidation of healthcare, you are seeing a significant reduction in the number of private practice physicians in this state as well as many other states. And what's happening is you're getting large systems, hospital systems and multi-hospital systems which are becoming the dominant players in healthcare," Dr. Johnson said.

      Analysts say it could take months if not years to realize the total cost of the Affordable Care Act.