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Salt Lake County launches health care reform resource website

Published August 9, 2013 7:13 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake County residents have a new online resource for navigating health care reforms under the Affordable Care Act.

Launched late Thursday, the website offers consumers a easy-to-navigate source for information about the main aspects of the law, sometimes called Obamacare, and how it might impact their lives. It also links consumers to federally-run health care sites with the most up-to-date information about the law.

"We were really trying to make it as simple as possible," said Lori Bays, director of Salt Lake County's human services department. "The ACA is a huge bill and a lot of information. We've tried to boil it down."

The idea for the site grew out of concern that the ACA's many rules might leave consumers confused, Bays said.

Passed by Congress in 2010, the ACA requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014, through public or private programs, or face a tax penalty.

The law changes nearly every aspect of health care, including new rules for what insurance plans must cover, to how long children can stay on a parent's insurance plan. It also sets new income eligibility guidelines for Medicaid, the public program that currently covers pregnant women, children in poverty and people with disabilities. In addition, the ACA creates an online marketplace where small businesses and individuals can buy insurance and establishes tax credits to help some citizens cover the costs.

Utahns will be largely dependent on the feds for ACA information because the state's Republican legislative leaders have opposed the law. Utah has yet to decide whether it will expand Medicaid to cover more low-income residents and will provide an online marketplace only for small businesses, not individuals.

Bays expects many county departments will be queried by citizens and said that's why the site made sense. In addition, the county has begun a series of training sessions aimed at arming staff with information to help the public connect with the right resources.

"In one way or another, the Affordable Care Act affects all of us," said Bays. "It's important for people to have information."

jdobner@sltrib.com

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