Understanding The Affordable Care Act
Considering the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is 1990 pages long, it’s no wonder so many Americans are confused about the ins and outs of this new, comprehensive law.
Everything you need to know about the act – especially in regards to how it will affect you and your household – can be found on the HealthCare.gov website. If you already have insurance through your employer, your parent’s or spouse’s plan, Medicaid, Medicare or VA healthcare, there is nothing much you need to do. If you are concerned that your employer-provided insurance does not meet the “minimal essential” coverage set forth by the laws “individual mandate” (basically, get insured or possibly pay a penalty at tax time), check with your human resources department and go from there. HealthCare.gov has a page on this subject. (What if I have job-based insurance?)
If you aren’t currently covered and haven’t visited the HealthCare.gov website yet, you have until the end of March to research your options and buy coverage. As the “Health Insurance Marketplace” exchange won’t allow you to browse insurance options without first entering your personal data, you may want to start your investigation by visiting The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator. The tool – labeled “Premium Assistance for Coverage in Exchanges” – will help you determine how much of your premium (if any) the government will cover through tax credit.
To help you get started on your research, we’d like to share a few quick facts about the new law.
• Stops insurers from rejecting someone for a preexisting condition, dropping their coverage due to illness or placing an annual or lifetime cap on their coverage
• Requires policies to cover a slew of preventative care including mammograms, colonoscopies, cholesterol tests, prenatal care, vaccines and more, and
• Holds insurance companies accountable for rate increases
If you do not have coverage and choose not to enroll, there is a possibility you will face a penalty. All exemptions can be found on the HealthCare.gov website and include the following:
• You’re uninsured for less than 3 months of the year
• The lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8% of your household income
• You don’t have to file a tax return because your income is too low
• You have experienced “hardship” that has affected your ability to purchase coverage
There is a lot to absorb. Please make sure you are informed and understand the proper healthcare benefits for you and your family.