Archive for October 7th, 2013

Affordable Care Act Questions Answered

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The health insurance exchanges are now open and despite some initial glitches and system overload, response has been fairly positive.  People still have a lot of questions about the Affordable Care Act, so NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman answered questions asked by Americans regarding the new health care law.  As NBC News chief medical editor, Dr. Snyderman offered a wealth of information about how we will all be affected in “Health exchanges open. What now? Dr. Nancy Snyderman answers your questions.” I’ve summarized the important information she relays on the NBC News website.

People who have health insurance through their job do not have to do anything.  You can shop around in the exchanges for a better value, but keep in mind that you won’t get any tax credits for an exchange plan if you have an available plan through your work.  Premium payments will be made directly to the insurance company whose plan you choose.  There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not premiums will increase for those who already have health insurance plans and unfortunately, only time will give the answer to that question.  If you qualify for a tax credit, you can choose to lower your premium right from the start or get an estimated tax credit the following year.

All doctors are not necessarily required to cover all plans, so check the details of your particular plan to confirm the doctors you can see.  If you are eligible for a plan through your spouse’s employer but want to search for your own through an exchange, you are not eligible for a tax credit.  Even someone young who is in college full time and does not work could be penalized if they do not purchase health insurance.  But they can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 because of the new law, so that might be a better option than purchasing their own.  Starting January 1, preventative care will be available at no cost, including birth control pills for women.  If you need insurance because of a “qualifying life event” like a job loss after March 31, 2014 you can still obtain it.

American citizens living abroad will not be penalized if they don’t have health insurance.  People with pre-existing conditions can now get insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.  Your costs will be based on the number of people you want to cover and how much money you make.  Older Americans will not lose anything if they are already on Medicare and they may gain some added benefits.  The penalty if you do not have health insurance will appear when you file your taxes and will vary based on income.  Within two years the penalty jumps to a much higher amount.  You can sign up at healthcare.gov and get even more questions answered.  If you want to compare health insurance plans, you can also click here.