CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The State of Louisiana has one of the highest numbers of uninsured persons in the nation. And with the health insurance exchange rolling out Oct. 1, Calcasieu Parish Democrats hosted a free seminar Thursday night to explain how the marketplace works.
While there are varying opinions on the Affordable Care Act, Thursday night's meeting aimed to simply provide facts.
"We're providing a forum, for knowledge, for questioning, across party lines or non-partisan," explained Calcasieu Democratic Caucus member Carolyn Woosley.
Thursday's speaker, Carol Giles, said one of the biggest challenges for people looking at the health insurance exchange is getting information.
"They don't really know where to start, they don't know what to expect, they don't know whether it applies to them, even," said Giles, who serves as the SWLA AIDS Council Client Services Director.
Open enrollment for the exchange is designed to give uninsured or under insured persons a place to shop for health insurance.
"None of the insurance that people sign up for during October, November and December will go into effect until January 1," said Giles.
She continued, "People can continue to enroll in the health insurance marketplace and in health insurance after January 1 as well."
Giles thinks people in Louisiana will be slow to enroll in the marketplace, but will eventually catch on.
Right now, Louisiana has one of the highest number of uninsured persons in the nation. Louisiana also doesn't have a state-based exchange.
"We opted for a federal partnership exchange, which means all of the rules for it are being passed down from the federal government," said Giles.
Although it was only an hour-long seminar, those who attended say they learned a lot.
"I thought this was a wonderfully informative program, and I'm glad we got to come," said Joyce Pace.
The Calcasieu Parish Democrats host a monthly series entitled 'In Search of Dialogue.' Thursday's topic will again be addressed in October.
For more information on the monthly series: http://caldpec.org/
For more information on the healthcare insurance exchange: https://www.healthcare.gov/.