Tuesday marks first day of enrollment for Affordable Care Act

(Photo courtesy of WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.(WKRN) – Affordable Care Act enrollment kicked off Tuesday across the nation. Here in Nashville, Mayor Megan Barry held an event for its launch.

News 2 spoke with some people at East Park Community Center, where people were offered help to enroll.

Crystal Hubbard said she used to work as an independent contractor and chose to go without health insurance for a long time.

“It’s one of those things I went without because it was too expensive,” she explained.

During the first year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she paid a penalty for not having insurance. Now she has insurance, but the costs are significantly going up.

“I think year one it was like $100 or $200, and now it’s like $500,” Hubbard told News 2.

People who enroll in the ACA can expect to see a big price increase with plan prices varying widely depending on where you live.

In some states, people will see a modest hike, but in others, the hike is staggering.

Premiums are set to increase an average of 22 percent for the benchmark Silver Plan. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Tennesseans can expect a 63 percent increase.

Dr. Bill Paul, Director of Metro Public Health Department, says there are many factors that drive the cost of health care up.

“I think that has a lot to do with the insurance companies and the costs that they are facing versus the prices they have been charging,” explained Dr. Paul.

Paul believes one factor that may have affected prices is that many of the people who first signed up for the Affordable Care Act could have had pre-existing conditions or been sick, costing insurance companies more, and those companies are now passing that cost on.

“So the first people to sign up are going to be the people who really need healthcare, so after the insurance becomes available, people are catching up on healthcare that they needed,” he said.

He says the good news is most people who sign up for the Affordable Care Act qualify for subsidies that should help lower the rising cost.

Learn more at Healthcare.gov.