GARY | Waves of people have been flooding the website that serves as a portal to health care enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.
The sign-up portion of www.healthcare.gov went live Tuesday. But consumers still have plenty of unanswered questions about what the law means for them.
The new law, commonly known as Obamacare, was the focus of a recent town hall meeting at the Ivy Tech campus in Gary. A panel of legislators and health leaders answered inquiries and reminded the community of resources to help people enroll in health care.
The Lake County Minority Health Coalition and Indiana Minority Health Coalition sponsored the discussion.
Dr. Janet Seabrook, executive director of the federally qualified health care center Community HealthNet in Gary, said the anticipation had been building for the start of open enrollment. Aside from expanded health care, people will experience financial benefits.
Many of the bankruptcies in Lake County are connected to medical expenses. The Affordable Care Act will change that, Seabrook said.
"People can economically lift themselves up," she said.
Community HealthNet is among the organizations helping people enroll online for health care. The center used grant money to hire workers to assist in enrollments. Workers cannot advise or give an opinion on different health plans, but they can help users navigate the website.
Chelsea Whittington, director of communications for Gary, said the city will schedule times to offer enrollment services at City Hall. People will be able to sign up for health care via computers there.
Panelists warned the group of scams connected to the Affordable Care Act.
No one should pay anyone for help to enroll in health care, said State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary.
During the discussion, panelists addressed questions about Indiana's failure to expand Medicaid; about coverage of pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act and about the difference between navigators and certified application counselors.
Health care discussions will continue around the region.
Diane Kania, of Lakeshore Health Insurance Brokers, is teaming with Jim Sandrick, of Sandrick Financial Agency, on some local presentations.
They are scheduled for 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Oct. 12 at Worthy Florals & Gifts, 723 165th St., Hammond, and 1:30-3 p.m. Oct. 19 (focus on Medicare) and Nov. 2 (focus on individuals and small businesses) at Whiting Public Library, 1735 Oliver St.
Workshops are free, but people are asked to RSVP to the Oct. 12 meeting. RSVP at (219) 933-6811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.