New health plans begin for many under Affordable Care Act - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

New health plans begin for many under Affordable Care Act

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

This first day of 2014 is also the first day millions of Americans begin their health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Those who signed up by the deadline just before Christmas have coverage as of Jan. 1.

Now, people using those benefits want to know if they will get a shock when they see the doctor or hospital bill.

Stacy Harris is starting the new year with a new a Blue Cross plan that she chose because it only costs  $359 a month.

"I picked a bronze plan," Harris said. "Basically, the lowest premium. Everything else about it was unappealing."

What's unappealing is for that low premium, she will have to pay the first $4,000 of her medical expenses every year.

That kind of sticker shock is something insurance agents are afraid will take a lot of people by surprise, if they haven't read the fine print of the plans with those low premiums.

For example, you might be used to having a small co-pay to see a doctor.

"In the past, you may have paid $35 for that visit," said Eric Jans, with Eric Jans Insurance Agency.

In the lowest premium plans, that's not the case anymore.

"Now, a lot of the plans, you pay whatever the doctor charges, and that adds up toward your deductible," Jans said.

And that could be a shock for people who didn't do the research that Harris did.

The Obama administration says more than 2.1 million people have now joined healthcare plans despite the glitch-ridden rollout.

Channel 4 News checked with some of the Middle Tennesseans we've interviewed in past months about choosing health insurance.

David Pearce, of Murfreesboro, had problems getting online but was finally able to enroll in a Blue Cross silver plan and says he's very impressed with it.

Susan Kistler, a breast cancer survivor, says she's thrilled to have top of the line platinum coverage for half of what she had been paying for private insurance.

And for the Rev. John Racioppa, of Westmoreland, who had a plan he liked but was told he couldn't keep it, his plan has been renewed for another year, although he's being told the price could rise in April.

So, if you're still picking a health plan, be sure to compare what you'll have to pay up front for doctors and prescription drugs and emergency room care. A silver or gold plan with a higher monthly premium may cost you less in the long run.

A new section has been added to healthcare.gov to help you see all those details.

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