Editor’s Note: This article from the WVPA convention in August is being re-posted in an effort to help explain the Affordable Care Act.
By GEORGE HOHMANN
For the WVPA
WHEELING – The federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is going to require a massive education effort, said Fred Earley, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia.
“Many employees are going to be thrown into a system that requires them to make choices and decisions, and that’s going to require a lot of education,” Earley said. The problem is most people in the United States have never really shopped for health care before, he said.
Earley spoke Friday at the West Virginia Press Association annual convention at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling.
He said consumers already have had to learn to shop for services in many other sectors, such as the banking and financial sectors.
Highmark West Virginia currently has 60 percent to 80 percent of the individual health insurance market in West Virginia, Earley said. Obamacare isn’t expected to grow this market by much in West Virginia, he said. Rather, the growth in West Virginia is projected to be in the segment that is affected by the expansion of Medicaid.
The health care reform law contains a provision to provide a “navigator program” to help consumers understand the new system, Earley said. Even so, Highmark West Virginia plans to ramp up its outreach to individuals.
The organization has a website designed to help answer employer and employee questions. It is at www.highmarkonhealthreform.com. Earley said the site is updated often.