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Uncertain Health Care Climate

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, September 18 2013 at 6:48 PM, Updated: Wed, September 18 2013 at 8:30 PM

Big changes in health care are on the way and even big companies with hundreds of thousands of employees are trying to adjust.

On Wednesday Walgreens announced a new way of providing health insurance for their employees. They've decided to give workers money to purchase customizable insurance plans. It's in response to the affordable care act set to roll out in just a number of months.

Walgreens officials said the move will give about 160,000 of their workers more choices when it comes to healthcare.

They've enrolled in a private health insurance exchange allowing their workers to pick and choose what they want in a coverage plan. It's similar to coverage  by the Affordable Care Act. 

"Those private exchanges are allowing for those large companies to cut to try to save," began Reggie Jones, a life and benefit consultant for Payne West Insurance.

"They're [also] looking to give their employees more options."

According to Walgreens, the move is an attempt to follow the affordability standard of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and more large companies are following suit.

Some insurance experts we spoke to over the phone said it's an attempt by big businesses to eliminate the uncertainty in waiting for the brand new affordable care act to roll out. Others we spoke with say confusion is running rampant as we're on the verge of big healthcare changes.

"There has been uncertainty from the get go and even now we're seeing a lot of small employers or employers in general that are still not aware [...] what their part is in it," said Jones.

That's why he said they've been sending out letters, trying to remind employers to let their employees know about the impending changes.

"There are changes every day [...] most individuals I talked to aren't aware that if they don't have an individual plan by January 1st of 2014 that they will pay a penalty."

A lack of education and awareness one of the biggest hurdles Jones said people must face sometime before January 1st when consumers will have to have insurance.

On October 1st, registration for the public health insurance exchange in Oregon called "Cover Oregon" begins.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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