Free Money News October 2013

State Health Care Exchanges are open for business – or should be! October 1 marked Day One for states offering registration sites for plans under what has become known as Obamacare.

Many exchanges are having first-day glitches (though they've had 3 years to prepare). And details are coming to light which will disappointment many. In Free Money Highlights we discuss some and help you navigate the system.

Objective facts don't make compelling news so headlines are about the government shutdown. But it will have little impact. Social Security checks will be paid and grants will still be awarded. It's happened before and it will happen again – it's one of the beauties of a two-party system and we celebrate it!

On an uplifting note, recent census reports show that U.S. businesses owned by blacks are growing three times faster than the national average. If it's your dream to start a business, improve your operation or obtain new funding, read on for news about an upcoming event and a special site for raising money.

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October Free Money Highlights

The Healthcare Marketplace

There are many unknowns as this new system gets going. The most important advice we can offer is to be patient. It is going to take time – and you may not be as happy as you hoped you would be with the results that you get.

Regardless of whether your state has started its own Exchange (36 of them have agreed to) - or if its online system is having problems - the best place to start is at healthcare.gov. If you have read our review of healthcare.gov in the past you may already understand quite a bit about your options and what sort of plan you'd like to apply for. The site has changed dramatically as of October 1 and is now the place both for information and, potentially, for purchasing your plan.

At this site you can choose either to get more information or to sign up to purchase a plan right away. Either way you will answer a number of questions that will determine what sort of plan you may be eligible for and where you will purchase it. Your state of residence will determine whether you buy your plan at healthcare.gov or at your own state's exchange, so you don't need to research how to fin your state's healthcare marketplace to sign up. And if you are unable to get to your actual plan and its cost, there are details about famiy size and income that should give some indication as to whether you may end up paying less for your healthcare.

If you have problems understanding what you are reading you should be able to click the “Live Chat” button to get some help from a human. (Unfortunately the site for Spanish speaking individuals will not be ready until mid-October.) Hang in there and be persistent and you will eventually know what your options are and what your new plan will cost.

Healthcare Heads Up: Here are a few things to be aware of as you pursue a health care plan for yourself and your family:

  • You are required to buy a health care plan or pay a penalty (each year) to the government.
  • If you do not buy a health care plan, your auto insurance rates may increase dramatically.
  • One of the most highly touted benefits of Obamacare is that you cannot be turned down by a plan because you have a pre-existing condition. People are discovering, however, that their premiums may be well beyond what they can afford to pay. Some have also found that medications that used to be covered are no longer included in their plan.
  • If you already have a plan that you like, you may find that it is no longer available to you or that you can no longer continue to use your current doctor.
  • Recent studies indicate that the “average” family will in fact pay about $7500 per year more for health insurance rather than seeing a reduction in their premiums.

Boosts for Black Businesses

New Funding Source:

We were intrigued to read that black-owned businesses are growing so much more quickly than the national average. This is likely the result of several factors. One is that success breeds success: as people see others like themselves taking a risk and succeeding they are encouraged to do the same. Another is the increase in programs specifically designed to provide support and aid beneficial not only to small businesses but also addressing needs specific to particular groups. One of our most popular articles on this site is Black Business Resources, detailing both traditional and non-traditional sources of funding, advice, and empowerment. A new resource has come to our attention combining a focus on black-owned businesses as well as the relatively new trend of crowdfunding.

Called BlackStartup.com, it aims to help raise awareness and funds for both black and non-black entrepreneurs whose project, business or campaign establishes a positive connection to the black community. And for all entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, take a look at our article about funding a startup business.

Circle of Sisters Enlightens and Empowers:

Coming up October 19-20 in New York City is an “Expo for Women of Color” put on by the Circle of Sisters and sponsored by WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM. Designed to assist, uplift and promote women of color in business and/or those who market to them, it looks sure to spark your creativity. The program includes lots of informative workshops, an expo area highlighting a wide assortment of vendors, a concert, activities for kids, and more. And tickets are very affordable.

Have a great October, enjoy the arrival of Fall, and set aside some quiet time to take care of your health care plan!

Recent Updates

Black Business Resources - From 2002 to 2007 black-owned businesses enjoyed a great leap in growth. Then for too many years progress slowed. The economy hurt everyone and black-owned businesses in hard hit cities like Detroit, Houston, Chicago and New ...

Grants for Business - A $30 billion Small Business Loan Fund was created in 2010 in order to encourage more accessible bank loans for small business. Some big banks have been accused of misusing these funds but don't be discouraged. If you are trying t...

Grants For Women-Owned Business - The good news: There are grants available for women-owned businesses. However, none of them come from the federal government. Yes, President Obama proclaimed March as “Women’s History Month” but he did not ann...

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