Obamacare Gets Real on Oct. 1

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In one week, nearly 643,000 Alabama residents will be eligible for federally subsidized health insurance when “Obamacare” becomes law.

The new policies will not take effect until Jan.1, 2014. However, health insurance exchanges will open Oct. 1 on the internet for all 50-states. Blue Cross and Blue Shield as well as other companies will be putting their policies online.

People who do not have insurance will have three months to study the new choices and sign up before coverage begins. Open enrollment ends in six months.

The rollout already isn't going according to federal plan in Alabama. Gov. Robert Bentley said again this month that he won't expand the state's Medicaid system, and expanding Medicaid by allowing families to earn more and still qualify was federal planners' first step toward covering more people. But the Supreme Court said Congress couldn't force the states to do that, and now those people in the gap will have to enter the exchange in Alabama and buy their own insurance.

Alabama isn't setting up a health insurance exchange, either, as some states are. The state's exchange - like that of 25 other states whose leaders oppose the law - will be administered by the federal government.

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