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HEALTH CARE LAW: A guide to avoid enrollment confusion

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:47:21 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 19 2013 07:18:11 PM EDT

We are less than two weeks away before enrollment in the Affordable Care Act begins. WDBJ7 is working to get answers to help you better understand what this means to you. Tonight we're focusing on the Affordable Care Act and people who currently receive medicare.


Whenever there is confusion, scammers pounce. 

We spent some time with Better Business Bureau president Julie Wheeler and the head of Roanoke's Local Office on Aging, Shannon Abell.

Both of them told us there have been plenty of complaints and plenty of confusion about the upcoming enrollment period.

The main reason for the confusion deals with Medicare.

Shannon Abell says there are three important things people need to know as it pertains to enrollment.

1.) If you are already enrolled in Medicare, you do not need to enroll for the Affordable Care Act.

For those enrolled, mainly those over 65 or those who are disabled, you do not need to do anything with Affordable Care Act Enrollment.

2.) Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins on October 1 and runs through December 31.

If you are uninsured, you must sign up for the Affordable Care Act or face a tax penalty. This is completely separate from Medicare Part D.

3.) Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D begins on October 15 and runs through December 7.

This has caused most of the confusion for seniors, Abell and Wheeler say. Medicare Part D is essentially Medicare's prescription drug plan.  If you've turned 65 within the past year and plan to receive prescription drugs through Medicare, you're encouraged to sign up during this enrollment period or face a tax penalty later on.

Again, Medicare Part D and the Affordable Care Act have very little to do with one another aside from having overlapping enrollment times; scammers know that.

"It's really crunched and given the crooks the opportunity to put that pressure on and to use those fear tactics of 'you're going to go to jail if you don't have insurance' well you're not going to go to jail," Wheeler said. 

Abell echoed a similar sentiment, saying "It's easy for seniors to get confused about this." Abell went on to say the overlapping enrollment periods has made some seniors who already have prescription drug plans through Medicare.  He says seniors have watched commercials or been told they need to enroll for something. 

In actuality, if they're already on Medicare and happy with their prescription drug plan through Part D, then nothing needs to be done.