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Since Congress has passed and the president has signed the health bill reform, how can we sign up for affordable insurance? Where do we start? Whom do we contact?

The health insurance reforms adopted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) are phased in over the next five years, according to Bob Hanson, public information officer for the Kansas Insurance Department. Many provisions will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014. However, some new protections must be included in health plans issued or renewed on or after Sept. 23, 2010. “PPACA is primarily focused on improving access to coverage and has not yet addressed cost in a meaningful way,” Hanson said. For Kansans who have pre-existing conditions and do not currently have insurance, the law helped establish the Kansas Pre-Existing Insurance Plan to make coverage available to eligible Kansans through the end of 2013. After that, according to the legislation, everyone will be mandated to have coverage or face a penalty. The opportunities for coverage will be expanded (with possible premium subsidies) through a state-based exchange that will compare similar plans from companies offering health insurance coverage throughout the state.
For information on PPACA and coverage opportunities, go to www.ksinsurance.org and click on the health reform information links at the top of the home page, or go to www.healthcare.gov, the new federal website. You also can call the consumer assistance hot line in Kansas, 800-432-2484.

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