When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) starts January 1, 2014, everyone under 65 (including children) must have health insurance.
If you’re confused about this new law and how it will affect you, you’re not alone. These 7 basic facts about the new health care will help you plan and budget your costs.
1. Who has to buy insurance (the individual mandate)
The law says that everyone under 65 must have health insurance. If you have Medicare or Medicaid coverage now, you don’t have to buy anything.
Also, if you’re covered by your employer’s plan or have insurance you’ve purchased, you’re exempt.
Other people who are exempt include:
- Children insured with CHIP
- Veterans covered under VA or Tricare
- People with insurance through the Indian Health Service
- Americans living abroad
2. What it will cost
Until you use your state’s insurance marketplace, you won’t know your exact cost. But, you can use the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator to get an estimate of what you’ll have to pay for insurance. It will also tell you if you can get a subsidy (tax credit) – and the amount.
3. Penalty for not getting insurance
If you don’t get insurance by March 31, 2014 you may have to pay a penalty. In 2014 the fee will be $95 per adult and $47.50 per child. By 2016, it will increase to $695 per adult and $347 per child. Some people are exempt from paying a penalty.
4. Who can get help with costs
In many states, Medicaid has been expanded and will be available to more low income Americans.
If you can’t get Medicaid, you may be able to get a subsidy – in the form of a tax credit.
5. Where to buy insurance
You buy an insurance policy through your state’s insurance exchange (marketplace). Exchanges are open October 1st through March 31, 2014. After March 31, you can only enroll if you have a qualifying life event (marriage, divorce, etc.).
Your coverage, no matter which plan you choose, will begin on January 1, 2014.
6. Expanded coverage
- Pre-existing conditions
Under the new health care law, everyone is guaranteed coverage. You can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. Even better: if you do have a pre-existing condition, you will not be charged more for your coverage.
- Young adults
If you are under age 26, you can stay on your parents’ health plan. This is true whether or not you live at home, are in school, or are married.
7. More benefits
- Preventive Services
Starting January 1st, most health insurance plans will provide preventive care for child and adult immunizations, cancer screening procedures, prescription drugs, emergency care, and other essential services.
- Seniors on Medicare
Seniors receiving Medicare will now have one free annual wellness visit. Also, if you’re a senior in the donut hole, you will get some relief. You’ll get discounts, some as much as 50%, on your prescriptions.
Before you buy health insurance, learn all you can about Obamacare. Look at your health care needs and know what you can afford. The web sites listed below are excellent sources of more detailed information.
This article was first published on ExpertsPages .