Health care providers struggling to answer questions about reform

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SALT LAKE CITY -- If you are unsure how the new health care reform bill will affect you, you call your health care provider, right?

With so much confusion surrounding the massive bill, there aren't many who understand the bill yet. To make matters worse, scam artists are looking to take advantage of confused consumers.


Chet Loftis says every time Regence BlueCross BlueShield receives a call about the reform bill, the operators try to answer the questions.

"We are kind of in a situation right now where we're all learning and trying to make sure we get the right answers before we just give our opinion, so to speak," Loftis says.

The problem is, many of the questions they can't answer yet.

"Our main message is to let them know that: one, we know it's going on to the best of our knowledge right now," Loftis says. "It's kind of difficult right now because this is so new."

By the numbers...
Health care overhaul
$938 billion: Cost of the measure over 10 years.
  • 32 million: Non-elderly, uninsured Americans who will be covered.
  • 23 million: People who will remain uninsured, including illegal immigrants.
  • 2,409: Pages in the health care bill.
  • 13: State attorneys general suing the federal government, claiming the overhaul is unconstitutional.
  • -Congressional Budget Office

    Tanji Northrup is the director of the health division for the Utah Insurance Department. She says phones in her office are also ringing nonstop with calls from concerned insurance consumers -- all wanting to know what changes will affect them and when.

    "It's so complex, I don't think that there's an easy answer to any of the questions," Northrup said. "We're taking questions here at the department, trying to answer them the best we can. I think it's everyone still trying to get a full understanding of what the bill does."

    What the bill does, Northrup says, is spread changes out on a timeline.


    She says the first changes go into effect this fall and continue through 2014. They deal with deductibles, coverage services for preventative care and dependent coverage up to age 26, among other things. [CLICK HERE for more on the health care changes coming in 2010]

    And where there's change and much confusion, Northrup says there are those looking to profit dishonestly. President Obama's office issued a consumer warning about scams.

    "We have heard that, on a national basis, there are some concerns with people going around door to door to residents and touting to provide a new health care plan based on the health reform," Northrup says.

    But clear information about the bill is starting to trickle down. Loftis hopes it comes for his customers soon.

    "We will be on top of it and make sure we're communicating with people as we go," he says.


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    Jennifer Stagg


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