The Affordable Care Act (ACA) - also called Obamacare - is a new law helping more Americans get health insurance. This guide will help you understand how it's affecting those without health insurance.
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You are required to have health insurance, or pay a penalty.
Unless you qualify for an exception, you'll pay a penalty if you don't have qualified health insurance starting in 2014. Qualified health insurance could include job-based coverage, private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or another government-sponsored insurance plan.
Do you not have insurance because of a pre-existing condition?
Before ACA, private health insurance companies could turn you away because of a pre-existing condition. That left millions of Americans with no access to health insurance because they didn't qualify for any government-sponsored plans or have access to job-based coverage. But now, insurance companies cannot turn you away or charge you higher premiums because of a pre-existing condition.
Do you not have insurance because it's too expensive?
The high cost of health insurance has caused millions of Americans to drop their coverage because they couldn't afford it. Under ACA, you can qualify for tax subsidies based on household income and family size to lower your costs. A tax subsidy is the amount of money paid by the government to your private, brand-name insurance company. Use our calculator to see if you might qualify.
ACA cuts DSH funding.
Disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts are included in the new law. DSH payments help provide money to hospitals to treat people without health insurance. For states that did not expand Medicaid, they will see deep DSH cuts. The law requires $18.1 billion in total reductions between 2014 and 2020, which cuts the uninsured's safety net in almost half.
Young adults can stay on parent's insurance until age 26.
ACA allows young adults to stay on their parent's health insurance plan longer. It doesn't matter if you're married, a full-time student, or if your parent claims you as a dependent. You can be covered under a parent up until your 26th birthday - no questions asked.
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Consider the lowest cost option.
Since you're not used to having a health insurance payment, you might want to consider the lowest cost option. That way, you'll avoid the penalty for not having insurance, you'll avoid bankruptcy if you get back sick, and you'll get great benefits like free preventive care and maternity coverage. For most people, the Bronze plan will be the lowest cost option. But if you're under 30 years old, it will be the "catastrophic" plan. Use our Plan Guide to learn more.
You get the power of choice.
Even if you qualify for a tax subsidy to reduce your costs, you can still choose your plan benefits. Obamacare is not issued by the government. Instead, you get to choose your brand-name insurance company from the ones available in your area.