Unless you've been living in a trailer down by the river in the middle of Nowhere, USA – you're probably well aware of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare as its been so lovingly referred to as) which went into affect October 1st. What you might not be as acquainted with is how it may affect you.
While I'm no expert on Obamacare – I have done a little bit of research about it and want to share some of those insights here. If you are more familiar with it and can add to the discussion here – I'd love to get your input in the comments section. Our hope is that the post can be a resource for many of you looking to find out a little more about the Act and how it will affect you and your family.
Depending on your situation, Obamacare will affect everyone differently AND each state is handling the new mandate a little differently. I want to present life situations here and hopefully you fit one of the profiles. It's important to note how many of us are covered (or not) in America.
- About 50% of us are covered by private health insurance (employer plans, ie)
- A third are covered under government plans (Medicare, Medicaid)
- 1 in 10 will purchase insurance themselves
- And just under 1 in 10 are not insured at all (roughly 30 million)
Betty is an office manager at a large law firm and she is enrolled in her company's health insurance program. She gets pretty good coverage too where the employer pays almost 90% of all her health care costs. While not everyone has it as good as Betty – many of us have some form of coverage provided by an employer.
Here are some of the new benefits that Betty may encounter with Obamacare:
- Free preventative care (Check-ups, screenings and vaccines must be covered by providers for free)
- Coverage for young adults (living at home?) until they hit 26 (about 6.6 million Americans)
- In 2014, insurance companies cannot charge you more or deny coverage because you've been sick
- No cancellations or lifetime limits on coverage when/if you get sick
- Rebates if the insurance provider spends too much of your premiums on overhead
- No more big booklets of whats covered and not – but short, plain-language summary of benefits
Other than the mentioned, Betty shouldn't see much of a change in her insurance coverage. Still, many employers are starting to move to “employee-driven” healthcare plans (code for “getting out of the business of providing health insurance for their employees”) so Obamacare could spur more businesses to continue this trend. There are companies out there who are railing against Obamacare. Hobby Lobby is actually suing the government for some of the mandates the new Act will enforce on employers.
Uninsured Ron and Business-owner Pete
Ron is a 24-year old recent college grad who works as a contract designer for a large tech company. Due to his age and good health, Ron has elected to not purchase health insurance. He figures he could use that money for paying off his school loan.
Pete owns a chimney repair business and purchases a health insurance plan for he and his family through an online insurance broker. It's an expensive plan that takes a big chunk out of their monthly budget – but needs good coverage with a newborn and wife who has a lot of medical issues.
Both Ron and Pete may have the option of participating in the Health Insurance Marketplace. This is online marketplace where private insurers compete for your business. You can choose 3 different plans ranging from Bronze Level (cheaper premiums – high deductibles) or Platinum Level (more expensive premiums – lower deductibles). These plans also come with the same benefits as those listed above.
Should Ron decide to stay uninsured, he will face a penalty of $100/1 year. This is a lot lower than opting for one of the lower-tiered plans (which could run about $100/month).
What should I do next?
As Obamacare gets rolled out and implemented into everyday life – the bugs will likely get worked out. It is not a perfect plan and many folks are none to pleased with its implementation (as we are currently seeing with the Government Shutdown).
Business-owners and corporations will likely feel the brunt of many of these changes as they may be forced to provide healthcare insurance to their employees if they employ more than 50 people. Added to that, many believe that insurance companies – with their inability to limit and deny coverage to “higher utilizing” people may cause them to raise overall rates for coverage to businesses who provide insurance for their employees. And, only the future can tell how that may affect the economy as a whole.
If you are looking for more information – check out the video below put out by the White House.
If you'd like to learn more about Individual or Family coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace – visit the following links:
And, to find out if you could be covered under the Affordable Healthcare Act
How do you think the new Act will affect you?