7/24/2014  Anant Goel

The Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare) was signed into law to reform the healthcare industry by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010; and upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012.

ObamaCare's goal is to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance, and to reduce the growth in healthcare spending in the U.S.

Here are some key features…

• The Affordable Care Act expands the affordability, quality, and availability of private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, subsidies, taxes, insurance exchanges, and other reforms.

• The fact is ObamaCare does not replace private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

• ObamaCare doesn't regulate your healthcare; it regulates health insurance and some of the worst practices of the for-profit healthcare industry.

• ObamaCare offers a number of new benefits, rights and protections including provisions that let young adults stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, stop insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick or if you make an honest mistake on your application, prevent against gender discrimination, stop insurance companies from making unjustified rate hikes, do away with life-time and annual limits, give you the right to a rapid appeal of insurance company decisions, expand coverage to tens of millions, subsidize health insurance costs, require all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, among other things.

• ObamaCare's new benefits, rights and protections also include the requirement that most non-grandfathered health insurance plans cover preventive services and provide at least ten new essential health benefits. Learn more about grandfathered health plans.

Ten essential health benefits including emergency care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity, and newborn care must be part of all non-grandfathered plans with no annual or lifetime dollar limits.

Free preventive services including yearly check-ups, immunizations, counseling, and screenings must be part of all non-grandfathered plans at no out-of-pocket costs.

• Many of ObamaCare's numerous provisions have already been enacted. The rest of the program continues to roll out until 2022. See the Affordable Care Act timeline for more information.

Important Health Insurance Marketplace dates...

You can buy Marketplace health insurance only during the annual Open Enrollment period. Upcoming dates you should know:

  • March 31, 2014: 2014 Open Enrollment ended

  • November 15, 2014: 2015 Open Enrollment starts

  • December 31, 2014: Coverage ends for Marketplace plans bought in 2014

  • February 15, 2015: 2015 Open Enrollment ends

To buy Marketplace insurance outside Open Enrollment, you must qualify for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying life event such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of other health coverage.

Learn about special enrollment periods and other health coverage options after Open Enrollment.

Many Americans who got their insurance through the ObamaCare exchanges are paying less for their health insurance every month; than they are paying for their cable subscription. In fact, premiums for people who qualify for a government subsidy have been cuts by an average of 76 percent, according to analysis from the government.

The analysis also determined that there is healthy competition in the marketplaces in most areas. About 96 percent of people eligible to purchase plans on the exchange had at least two insurance companies to choose from. People had an average number of 47 health plans to choose from on the exchanges, offered up by an average of five different insurers. A number of insurers have announced in recent weeks that they'll be entering the marketplace for the 2015 enrollment period, which means more people will have more choices and competition should help keep those premium costs down.

It's affordable. It's covering a lot of people. It's attractive to insurance companies. This thing is working. Republicans are very soon going to regret that they named it ObamaCare.

The Bottom Line

Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare) is "the law of the land". There are many people who would like to see ObamaCare repealed. If ObamaCare is repealed, tens of millions of Americans will be without proper health coverage, and insurance companies will continue to be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Without healthcare reform America will continue to suffer the consequences of a health care system controlled by private for-profit companies, whose bottom line is money and not health?

Here’s the link to ObamaCare Facts to learn the truth about President Obama's health care reform under the Affordable Care Act.

All politicking aside, the main thing to look for when comparing insurance; is pre-existing conditions or PCIP. This seems to be the main hurdle for those in need of coverage.  Unfortunately, those with pre-existing conditions are the ones needing the assistance the most. 

Shop around.  If the ACA is too expensive for your budget, there are plenty of insurance companies out there that could afford your business.  The good thing about insurance is that if you have not already acquired a ‘condition’, the benefits are decent if you ever develop one down the road.  Premiums are typically low and if something happens, you aren’t forced to come out of pocket an obtuse amount of money that will really put you and your family in a financial bind.  No one wants, nor anticipates an unexpected hospital bill.

The other important thing to remember here is that there are tax implications to not having health insurance.  If it’s not the ACA, get coverage somewhere.  If not, the government will take their cut on the back end at tax time until you choose to get it.  It’s your choice.

To make an informed decision and to get more information, click here. And to learn more about how ACA will affect your taxes, click here.

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