The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or ACA), also known as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. Considered the biggest extension of federal health care benefits since Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965, the law is designed to provide access to insurance coverage to the 48 million uninsured Americans and requires all Americans to obtain some form of coverage. Regardless of your political views on the law, it is important to understand how it will affect you and what options are being made available as a result of its passage.
The Doctors clear up the confusion surrounding the law and offer their thoughts on the state of health care in United States today.
Who is eligible?
Starting in 2014, being sick won’t keep you from obtaining health coverage. Under the law, an insurance company can’t deny you coverage or charge you more due to a preexisting or chronic condition. Additionally, children may stay on their parents’ insurance policies up to the age of 26.
Employers with 50 or more full-time employees have a choice between providing insurance that meets the standards set forth by the Affordable Care Act or paying a penalty. Employers with less than 25 full-time employees may qualify for tax credits, tax breaks or other assistance for insuring employees.
What types of plans are available?
• Bronze Plan: This plan has the lowest premiums. 60 percent of medical costs are paid for by the insurance company and 40 percent paid by the insured person.
• Silver Plan: This plan has the second lowest premiums. 70 percent of medical costs are paid for by the insurance company and 30 percent paid by the insured person. This is the standard choice for most reasonably healthy families who historically use medical services.
• Gold Plan: This is the second most expensive plan. However, 80 percent of medical costs are paid for by the insurance companies and 20 percent by the insured.
• Platinum Plan: This plan has the highest premiums and is recommended to those with high incomes and those in poor health. Under this plan, the insurance company pays 90 percent of medical costs and the insured person pays 10 percent.
Fines for failing to obtain health insurance coverage start at $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family), or one percent of annual income for the first year. In 2015, the fines will increase to two percent of annual income, or $325 per adult and $165.50 per child. In 2016, the fines will increase to two and a half percent of annual income, and will be capped at that amount.
• To enroll for insurance coverage, please visit healthcare.gov.
Can I keep my current insurance?
Despite earlier assurances from President Obama, about two percent of Americans have found that insurance plans they were promised would be “grandfathered in” are being canceled under ACA. According to the law, the ACA only guarantees plans purchased before the law’s enactment, meaning individual plans bought since the law passed in 2010 are being canceled if they do not meet the law’s minimum requirements.
• Learn more about why certain people have received cancellation letters.
• Find out the 10 health benefits that all plans must include under the health care law.
The Doctors Answer Your Biggest ACA-Related Questions
“You do want to shop around for the best deal,” Dr. Travis says. “But what you don’t want to do is, every year, switch to a new doctor because you’re on a new plan. Continuous care is, by far, the most efficient form of care.”