Sponsored by The Motherhood & Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; opinions are my own.
What do you know about the Affordable Care Act? Or ObamaCare, as it’s often called? I apparently didn’t know much until I took part in a briefing with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield last week that was quite eye-opening! I learned all about what health care reform is setting out to do and what to expect from Open Enrollment, which starts next week – on October 1st! These are some highlights:
WHAT IS IT?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the beginning of a complete change in the way we purchase health care coverage and access care. Passed in Washington a couple of years ago, its purpose is to make sure that everyone has access to good health care at a good cost. For many people, this means access to care for the first time in their lives and for others it means access to expanded benefits.
IT’S A SYSTEM WHERE…
- you cannot be charged more or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.
- women are charged no more than men.
- if you do not get insurance through your work – if you’re self-employed, for example – you can get insurance through an online marketplace, or exchange.
- if you need and qualify for help paying for coverage on the exchange, you can get help with government subsidies.
- if government subsidies don’t offer the assistance you need, you can get coverage through Medicaid.
- a larger group of low income Americans are now eligible for Medicaid, with the federal poverty level increasing to 133%.
- dependent coverage is required for children until they turn 26 years old, so children are eligible to receive coverage regardless if they are in college, a tax dependent or are married.
- a number of benefits are included no matter what – things like emergency services, maternity and newborn care, pediatric services (including oral and vision care), mental health and substance use disorder services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.
- you’ll get preventative care for mammograms, well woman visits, contraception and much more.
- you can choose your own primary care, OB-GYN or pediatrician without referrals.
- as an incentive for people to buy health insurance, there’s a tax penalty for those who choose not to do so. (More on that below!)
HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES
Starting October 1st – next Tuesday – health insurance “exchanges” or “marketplaces” will open for business, allowing individuals to buy health insurance. This works similarly to comparison shopping on Amazon or booking a trip on Expedia, letting you compare your health insurance options in a straightforward way.
- Enrollment begins: October 1, 2013
- Enrollment ends: March 31, 2014
- Coverage begins: January 1, 2014, for those who sign up before December 15th!
To be eligible to participate in the healthcare exchanges, individuals must live in the U.S., be a U.S. citizen or national, and cannot be currently incarcerated. Those who are currently covered by their employers will probably not see a change or even have to use the public exchanges.
With expanded benefits come higher costs – that’s pretty much a given. Health insurers can either pass those costs on to their members – increasing your monthly premiums – or figure out ways to manage those costs so that health insurance remains affordable. The thought is that the more young, healthy individuals are included in the insurance pools, the more reasonable rates are for everyone. There will be several levels, or tiers, depending on how much you want to spend. Generally, the lower your deductible, the more you spend on your monthly premium, and co-pays will vary depending on the plan you select.
Ultimately, SO many variables impact the cost of insurance – family, geography, income, and subsidies that you may or may not be eligible for – which makes it hard to predict these costs. For those who have trouble paying for their coverage, the government subsidies will definitely be a big help! Your yearly income will determine whether you qualify. For example, assistance will be available – on a sliding scale – for individuals who make $45,000 a year and a family of four that makes about $92,000 a year. The less money you make, the more assistance you’ll get.
Health insurance only works if everyone is part of the pool! Those who use lots of health insurance balance out those who use little. As an incentive to encourage people to buy health insurance, now there will be a penalty tax on those who don’t – 1% of your annual income, or $95 per individual, $285 per family, depending on which is greater. This will go up every year until 2017- by 2015, fees will go up to $325 for uninsured person or 2% of taxable income, and in 2016, the fee will go up to $695 for an insured person or 5% of taxable income. Ouch! Perhaps people will see that spending money on health care coverage is a better option than spending it on a government tax at the end of the year. (The exception to this is if you make $9,500 or less, in which case you won’t have to pay the penalty tax.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTH INSURANCE
Buying health insurance is an important way to protect you and your family in the event of injury or illness. It’s also essential to protect your financial future, as injury and illnesses can be costly without insurance. Just think – an average cost of a 3-day hospital stay – without insurance – is $30,000! And something as little as a broken arm can cost $2,500 or more (without surgery!)
To summarize, these are your four options to get health insurance for the next year:
1. Continue purchasing insurance through your or your spouse’s employer.
2. Buy health insurance yourself – either through exchanges, direct for insurance companies or through traditional brokers .
3. Enroll in government programs like Medicare or Medicaid plans – if you are eligible.
4. Go without insurance – but pay a tax penalty.
Some websites you can visit to learn more:
• The Kaiser Family Foundation at Kff.org?
YOUR TURN: What do you think about the Affordable Care Act? How will it affect you?
I know my taxes will go up. Otherwise, hopefully no other detriments will impact our family. UPS is not covering spouses who have insurance under their plan. I wouldn’t be surprised if other corporations went this route.
BusyWorkingMama´s last blog post ..Produce for Kids & Publix Healthy Families, Helping Kids Campaign
I have been HORRIBLE about keeping up with this and knowing what’s really going on! Thanks for such an informative post…I feel a little more “in the know” now 🙂
Christie´s last blog post ..Encouragement for the Ordinary Mom
As a Canadian I have heard murmurings about your new health care system.
Could take a little while to get everything smoothed out along the way and I am sure we will hear a lot more about this issue.
Thanks for clearing it up for your neighbours to the north!
our country’s healthcare, like many other systems, needs a 100% do over. maybe this is part of the solution !!
brett´s last blog post ..Should you try Grain-Free Cat Food? #HillsPet #Giveaway
Helene Cohen Bludman says
You explained this very well. Thanks for laying it out simply and clearly — now I feel like I have a handle on it.
Rhonda - YVSG says
Boy do I have a lot to learn about the different options. Thanks for detailing things for us in a user friendly way. I’m sure that there are both good and bad issues with the changes, so knowledge is power. Great review.
Rhonda – YVSG´s last blog post ..Win $25 Cash #SupportSmallBusiness Giveaway
Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas says
Thanks for such a detailed run-down. It’s definitely helpful to read it all mapped out like this! Health care makes my head spin sometimes!
Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas´s last blog post ..Easy Upcycled Halloween Craft: Spiderweb Wall Hanging
Victoria H (@funmom91) says
I had almost forgotten about this. This is a very informative post and with the date so close I definitely needed this brought back to my attention.
Victoria H (@funmom91)´s last blog post ..7th Heaven Giveaway
Alicia Taylor says
Unfortunately, companies have jacked up the price of health insurance for us and say it’s the fault of ObamaCare and it’s not even in play yet. I also don’t believe it’s right to force people into taking health insurance or taxing them for NOT getting health insurance. Also, many small companies can’t afford the raise in insurance costs and are either laying off or choosing not to hire. I’ll be glad when it all settles out and people can see what it’s really going to be like. So many people saying so many things on both sides of the fence has done nothing but left me confused and wondering what the future holds for my small business and my family.
Alicia Taylor´s last blog post ..Life on the Autism Spectrum – Beyond the Stares
Jennifer B says
This is a nicely written post although I can’t say that I agree with ObamaCare at all. I have to agree with Alicia above that it is not right to force people to take insurance which is exactly what is happening.
Jennifer B´s last blog post ..Book Tour: Two Brothers: Origin (A Ramtalan Trilogy) by Sofia Diana Gabel
Hope everithing goes well with the new system! We have a private health insurance thanks to my husband’s job.
Ave´s last blog post ..8 Baby Halloween Costume Ideas
I really needed this as I had no clue. I have insurance through work but my old man an I aren’t married and he has no insurance or income which I was worried bout the healthcare tax and now I know he won’t have to pay it.
Ruby´s last blog post ..Disney On Ice coming to Evansville Indiana! Oct 27th
Melanie a/k/a CrazyMom says
Thanks for making it so clear… I have been trying to find out more, but did not want to read page over page for days to figure out what the new system is going to be all about. We have insurance through my husbands employer, a big employer and their insurance is plain ridiculous; We pay over $600 a month for 5 of us to be covered and our out of pocket deductible till the insurance even coves anything (not even a dr. visit) is $2500 a person.. YES!! That is plain ridiculous, something has to change, a broken arm will cost us $2500 plus 20% after that.. what normal family can afford that?? I just had lab work and a Dr. visit last week and my bill for $583 showed up today and that’s MY cost.. and I have insurance.. YEP.. Crazy.. Something has to change
Melanie a/k/a CrazyMom´s last blog post ..You can bring your old furniture back to life with a facelift #DIY paint
Virginia @thatbaldchick says
Thanks for sharing.
Virginia @thatbaldchick´s last blog post ..How to Make a Popcorn Card
Sound complicated. I’m Canadian. I have a government issued healthcare card and when I want I go to the doctor. No questions asked.
Robyn´s last blog post ..The Benefits of Yoga during Pregnancy
Cynthia L says
You made things very clear. I have always found this to be confusing – there is so much talk about it and everyone seems to have their own ideas of what it means.
Cynthia L´s last blog post ..Freezing Tomato Sauce – the easy way
Carmen's Coupon Blog says
Thank you for clearing this up for me.. You broke it down and made it easy for me to understand I appreciate that a lot
Carmen’s Coupon Blog´s last blog post ..Ends 10/07 – $25.00 Pink Blush Maternity Gift Card Giveaway
Thanks for the info! Although I’ve heard of Obama Care, I never really took the time to learn much about it.
Malia´s last blog post ..My baby is not a baby anymore – Kanai’a turns 3!
Melissa P. says
We need reform but Obamacare is not it.
Barbara Bradford says
I think Obamacare is too complicated to express in a simple blog post. I doubt few have ever attempted to read the entire law. Over a year ago our company decided it was their best interest too no longer offer insurance to their employees even in anticipation of Obamacare. My grand children work both for Walmart & McDonald’s have all had their hours cut drastically to keep them in the temporary employee category because of Obamacare. Hilcrest medical center in Tulsa will lose hundreds of employees when Obamacare goes into effect. We are adding so many low-income families to our medical facilities, with no thought as to who will pay for them, where will these doctors come from to care for them. Will the illegals still fill our emergency rooms, because they were left out of the solution? Every one seems to be hoping that the young and healthy will get on board and pay for those who don’t work or choose not to. I think if Obamacare is not good enough for our Congress and their staff, then it’s not good enough for anyone. Defund it and lets start over… with transparency… this time…. Tell Palosi & Reed to read the legislation next time, not just make it up as they go along….
Thanks Mariana for letting me vent….
Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says
I know for this year I’ll be taking the penalty because it will cost me less than to buy insurance. Not sure what I’ll do the next year yet. We’ll see.
Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell´s last blog post ..Accept the Gifts That Nature Gives You #PowerofthePeanut
Amy Lynn Desrosiers says
I already pay $600 something a month for insurance, and really cannot afford for the premium to go up. My daughter has a heart condition so it is not like I can not have insurance. It stinks..I dont see too much good coming from it..
Amy Lynn Desrosiers´s last blog post ..doTERRA Deep Blue Roll On 10 ml Review & Giveaway
I’m not a proponent of Obamacare. We already pay $1000 a month for insurance with a $2000 deductible PER PERSON! I’m scared what will happen if my husband loses his insurance at work.
Shanna´s last blog post ..#ad Scoring Delicious Tailgating Food with Tyson Buffalo Chicken Strips