By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - If you're confused about the new health insurance plans opening up under Obamacare, you're not alone. Most details won't be announced until October 1 when enrollment begins.
One local group is preparing right now to help East Tennesseans find out if they're eligible for the program and walk them through the steps of signing up.
"I've been a truly lucky person because I've never been really sick in my entire life and then in the last year just a succession of things have come up," explained Larry Drain, 62.
He has a degree from UT and worked in the counseling field for most of his life. He hasn't been able to keep a job for the last few months because of medical problems.
"I am in a lot of discomfort," he said.
Doctors say he needs hernia surgery and an MRI to diagnose a possible stroke, but he doesn't have health insurance. He's anxious to find out if he qualifies for a plan in the new health insurance marketplace and if he can afford to pay for it out of his wife's disability check.
"We've been trying to grasp any information from the federal government but it has been fairly scarce to this point," said Erin Hill is the executive director of Knoxville Area Project Access, or KAPA.
The healthcare nonprofit has been appointed as navigator in the new marketplace for people in East Tennessee.
"Whenever people have questions filling out the application, or what the different plans are, or questions about their subsidies they'll call into KAPA at (865) 531-2766 and we'll help work through it," Hill said.
They also have plans to set up in public places like the health department and libraries so they can help people in person.
"A lot of our patients are just confused on exactly how it's going to work," she said. "That all has to be determined after October 1."
Hill said they'll announce locations, dates and times for their community outreach soon.
You have until December 16 to enroll if you want your coverage to start on January 1.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that if you can afford insurance but don't buy it, you can be charged a fee starting in 2014. It will be $95 or one percent of your income, whichever is higher. The fee will increase each year.
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