Affordable Care Act: Why, What, & Where
As many of you may know, in March 2010, President Obama signed a comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. A host of Preventive Care services will now be free and is a major component of this act. Being a Preventive Medicine Health Physician affords me a good deal of experience with respect to the impact of preventive care on one’s health. So, I thought it would be important for us to pass along an overview of some important things to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace first published on Healthcare.gov
When you fill out the Marketplace application it tells you if you qualify for:
Private insurance plans. It will tell you whether you qualify for lower costs based on your household size and income. Plans cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventive care. If you don’t qualify for lower costs, you can still use the Marketplace to buy insurance at the standard price.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These programs provide coverage to millions of families with limited income. If it looks like you qualify, it will share information with your state agency and they’ll contact you. Many but not all states are expanding Medicaid in 2014 to cover more people.
No matter what state you live in, you can use the Marketplace. Some states operate their own Marketplace. In some states, the Marketplace is run by the Federal government. Find the Health Insurance Marketplace in your state at Healthcare.gov
Most people must have health coverage in 2014 or pay a fee. If you don’t have coverage in 2014, you’ll have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1% of your income (whichever is higher). The fee increases every year. Some people may qualify for an exemption to this fee.
You’re considered covered if you have Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, any job-based plan, any plan you bought yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, TRICARE, VA health coverage, or some other kinds of health coverage.
If you’re eligible for job-based insurance, you can consider switching to a Marketplace plan. But you won’t qualify for lower costs based on your income unless the job-based insurance is unaffordable or doesn’t meet minimum requirements. You also may lose any contribution your employer makes to your premiums.
If you have Medicare, you’re considered covered and don’t have to make any changes. You can’t use the Marketplace to buy a supplemental or dental plan.
Marketplace open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. If you enroll by December 15, 2013, coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014. Visit Healthcare.gov for more information.
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