October first is a week away and that means the Affordable Care Act will soon be law of the land. Here in Jacksonville we're already seeing and hearing local effects it can have.
"This is the law of the land...we are going to proceed with the full expectation that it's going to be implemented beginning on October 1," says Florida Blue spokesman Jason Altmire.
If you don't have health care and can't get it through your employer, you're mandated to have it, and Altmire says you'll have to make a decision by December 15th so it can take effect on January 1st when you are required to be covered.
"So beginning October 1 you'll have to start looking at your options, getting online, comparing the value and the benefits of each plan in your reason," says Altmire, a former Congressman from Pennsylvania.
Altmire says you want to make sure you're getting your information from accurate, reliable sources, so don't just go anywhere or to anyone.
"Places like CVS and Walgreens, healthcare.gov. FloridaBlue.com has a good site [too]."
We're seeing locally it's already affecting employees of a big area employer. We obtained a memo sent to Gate employees letting them know that medical benefits they have through CIGNA will be going away December 31.
"This was not a decision by Gate but rather a decision by the insurance company and it impacts our store-level employees," says Gate spokeswoman Kristen Beach.
She says the company wanted to be open and honest with its employees about changes in their coverage and that the process now is shifting to taking a step back, seeing how the law works once it's implemented, and then deciding what the best option is for employees going forward.
"We explore our options of what there is available to us to offer to our employees," says Beach. "Currently it looks as though the exchange will be the best source of that coverage. It will appear to offer better, more comprehensive coverage than what they currently have either at or better premiums."