The Affordable Care Act or “Obama Care” started in 2010. However, when people today ask “when will Obama care begin”, they are usually referring to one of two things. The first is the open enrollment period that started on October 1, 2013. The second is the earliest date that policies purchased during the first open enrollment period can become effective. That date is January 1, 2014.
For many Obama Care is a nonevent. If you get, and will continue to get, your health insurance coverage through your employer not much will change for you. A lot will change for the company you work for; business will have more paperwork to file and more administrative hassles.
If you have been unable to qualify for medical insurance due to cancer, a heart condition or some other pre-existing condition, your life may change profoundly. Now you can apply for a policy that covers you. You can exchange monthly premiums for peace of mind.
If you are an individual who simply could not afford coverage, the subsidies now available to you may make a difference. However, the cost of health insurance will be so high for some that even with the subsidies the benefits of a health insurance policy may remain out of reach.
Now that the bill has become law and business as usual has profoundly changed in the insurance marketplace, what should you do?
You have several choices. Many will get or keep coverage through their jobs. Many will chose to keep the non-employer sponsored coverage they currently have until it renews. Others will purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange. Others will purchase off exchange coverage.
If you are one of the lucky employees who get their healthcare insurance through their employers, you probably have coverage that meets the federal mandates. You may want to check with your human resources department, but there probably isn’t much you need to do.
If your insurance policy was purchased in the last few years, you will probably be able to keep it until its renewal date in 2014. Most of the current plans will satisfy the mandate temporarily. You will need to purchase a new policy in 2014 when your current one expires, but you will pay what will probably be a lower rate for several months. If you do not qualify for a subsidy, this will likely be a good strategy. You will pay less and still avoid paying the penalty when you file your taxes for 2014.
If you do qualify for a subsidy or need a benefit that isn’t covered by your current policy, you may want to spend some time looking at the options available for 2014. We can help residents of Connecticut explore their options and apply for a subsidy and for insurance coverage.
If you qualify for a subsidy, your costs may be lower than if you purchased a policy in 2013. If so, you will need to purchase your coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange. Our agency can help residents of Connecticut purchase through the exchange. Call us. We should be able to help you find a plan that includes your provider or providers. We want to make starting a new policy as easy as possible.
Policies purchased in the individual market, that were effective prior to January 1, 2014, may not provide certain health care services. For example, maternity expenses are not typically covered in these policies. This is another reason to purchase one of the new policies.
The subsidies are based on income. The subsidies are designed to bring the cost of your coverage down to a certain percentage of your income. If your modified adjusted gross income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level, you should qualify for a subsidy. This is based on household income. For an individual the limit is a little less than $46,000 for a family of four the limit is about $93,000.
If you do not qualify for a subsidy, you can still purchase a policy through the exchange. However, you may have more options if you also look outside the exchange. Some companies will continue marketing while not selling through the government exchange.
The politics of Obama Care will continue to be debated. One of the future presidents may encourage congress to repeal the law. Who knows what will happen in the years ahead.
However, in the days ahead, there are steps you should take to make sure you make the right decision. Give us a call. We will do our best to give you the information you need to make an informed decision regarding starting a policy, keeping your current one or not getting a policy at all.
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