New Health Care Law FAQ

Top Questions Answered about the New Health Care Law

 

Background

The new health care law – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed by Congress in 2010. Some of its rules are in place now. Others are being phased in over time ― many on January 1, 2014.

The law expands health insurance with benefits for more people and more affordable coverage. It also means some changes for employers who offer health insurance to their workers, for doctors who provide health care and for consumers.

Here are commonly asked questions about the new law. Become familiar with ACA and be better ready to think about your health insurance choices. And, if you will be signing up for in a new plan, you’ll be ready. Enrollment starts in October 2013 for your plan that becomes effective on January 1, 2014.

What is the new health care law?

 Health care reform is an ongoing process to help our country’s health insurance system work better. The reform effort you’re hearing more about now is the Affordable Care Act — the most sweeping reform to date — which became law in 2010. Some of its changes to health insurance are in place now and others are being phased in over time ― many on Jan. 1, 2014. One of the biggest changes of the Affordable Care Act is that many Americans who have been uninsured will now be able to get health insurance.

How does the new health care law help me today?

 The Affordable Care Act adds some benefits that help everyone. If you haven’t been able to afford insurance in the past, it makes it possible to find affordable coverage and to help pay for it through subsidies and tax credits. If you haven’t been able to qualify for insurance because of a health condition, it makes coverage available to you. And, if you’ve had insurance with restrictions that made it hard to cover all your health care needs, new rules remove some of the limits usually included in health coverage in the past.

What if I can’t afford health insurance?

 You can expect to see more choices in health plans in 2014 that may allow you to find coverage that meets your needs and stays within your budget. You also may be able to get a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premium. Depending on your situation, you may even be eligible for a $0 premium plan. You’ll be able to see what your premium, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll.

What’s happening in 2014?

 The new health care law was passed in 2010. The new law expands health insurance to include more benefits for more people, and is aimed at making coverage affordable and available to the millions of uninsured in our state. The law is changing the way some Americans get health coverage. Some changes are happening now. The biggest change for consumers comes in 2014, when almost everyone in the U.S. will be required to have health insurance. It is also when the new online health insurance exchanges (also called the health insurance marketplace) begin offering a new way for people to shop for and buy health insurance.

I heard Texas doesn’t have an exchange. Does that mean I don’t have to purchase health insurance?

 Texas won’t have a state exchange in 2014, so Texans will use the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. The plans you buy on the federal marketplace will still be offered by health insurers providing coverage in Texas, using physicians and hospitals in your community.

 I have heard that October is important. What is so important about October?

 Tax Credit and Cost-Sharing Subsidies will help eligible people get insurance.

The first open enrollment period for buying insurance on the health insurance exchanges (also called the health insurance marketplace) begins October 1. At that time you will be able to go online and shop the different insurance plans available to you. The site will also offer a calculator to help you figure out what your monthly premium will be, and to see if you qualify for a break on the cost of premiums in the form of a subsidy or a tax credit, depending on your situation. The first open enrollment will last through March of 2014. Coverage begins January 1, so the sooner you enroll, the sooner you’ll be covered.

My mom got turned down for insurance because of her diabetes. Will she be able to get covered under the new law?

 In the past, it was often hard for some people to get health insurance unless they were part of a group. Individuals who had a chronic illness, were pregnant, older or more likely to need care couldn’t get coverage or had a plan that didn’t provide coverage of their medical condition. The new health care law includes a rule called guaranteed issue. Beginning in January 2014, you will be able to get insurance that includes coverage for your medical condition.

 My 22-year old son just graduated from college, but doesn’t have a job. Will the new health care law give him coverage?

 Under the new health care law, you’ll be able to cover your adult children on your plan up to the age of 26. Most limits to keeping your young adult son or daughter on your coverage are removed, meaning they don’t have to be a full-time student, live with you, be disabled or be a tax dependent.

 What is the penalty if I don’t sign up for health insurance by 2014?

 If you don’t have health insurance in 2014, you could have to pay a penalty on your federal income tax. In 2014, the penalty for individuals is the higher of two amounts — $95 or 1 percent of income. These penalties increase each year.

 Am I buying insurance from the government?

 The Affordable Care Act is based on more people buying health insurance from private insurance companies — not from the government. The government’s role includes making sure these private plans meet standards for coverage and service, providing financial assistance for people who need it to buy insurance, broadening eligibility for public insurance programs, and encouraging efforts to improve quality and control costs.

 

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