The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, is a federal law that requires almost all Americans to have health coverage or face tax penalties. In addition, the law has many other provisions that affect your health insurance and how much you pay for it. This article outlines some of the key changes to the medical insurance market in the U.S., beginning with a look at what the law is and how it will affect you.
What is Obamacare?
The Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, is a federal health-care law that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010. The law is designed to expand access to health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. It does so in a number of ways, including expanding Medicaid (the government-run health insurance program for low-income people) and private health insurance options, allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old, eliminating lifetime coverage limits for some types of treatments and services, and requiring certain insurers to offer certain health benefits, such as prescription drugs and maternity care.
How Does the Affordable Care Act Affect Health Insurance?
The Affordable Care Act has several provisions that affect the way health insurance is offered and purchased. One of these provisions is the individual mandate, which requires people who can afford health insurance to do so. The mandate also requires everyone else to have some form of qualifying health insurance, such as a plan that meets minimum federal standards. The ACA also requires insurers to accept all applicants, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and charge the same rates to everyone. The law has other provisions that affect health insurance, including:
– Expanding Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program for low-income people, in 31 states and Washington, D.C. This expansion is optional and will be optional until 2017.
– Eliminating lifetime coverage limits for certain types of treatments and services, like cancer treatment, organ transplants, and chronic care, such as mental health services.
– Allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old.
– Creating health insurance exchanges, also known as health insurance marketplaces, that will serve as online shopping hubs where people can compare and purchase health insurance.
– Requiring all insurance plans to offer a minimum set of essential health benefits, including emergency services, inpatient care, preventive care, mental health and substance abuse services, maternity and newborn care, and pediatric services.
Key Provisions of the Affordable Care Act
Below are some of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act: – Individuals must get health insurance. The law requires almost all Americans to have qualifying health insurance or pay a tax penalty. – States can expand Medicaid to cover low-income people. The federal government will cover most of the costs of covering low-income people on Medicaid through 2016. – No lifetime coverage limits. This provision allows patients to receive the best possible care, including expensive treatments, without worrying about financial barriers. Plans will no longer be able to deny coverage for common treatments like cancer surgery or organ transplants. – New requirements for health insurance plans. Plans offered through the health insurance marketplace must cover 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity care, mental health care, prescription drugs, and substance abuse services. – A health insurance exchange. Beginning in 2014, people will be able to shop online for and compare health insurance plans from different providers. – Tax credits for health insurance. People with modest incomes may qualify for tax credits to help cover the cost of qualifying health insurance plans.
Is Obamacare Fully Implemented Yet?
Some of the ACA’s provisions have already been implemented, while others will begin in 2014. In some cases, these policies have been in place since the law was implemented in 2010. So you should prepare at best to follow this law.
How to Sign Up for Health Insurance Through the Marketplace
People with low incomes and who don’t have health insurance will be able to shop for health insurance through a new online portal called HealthCare.gov. This portal will serve as a go-to place for people to find, compare, and sign up for affordable health insurance. Individuals and families who don’t have health insurance through an employer will be able to shop for health insurance plans that meet minimum federal standards, including the 10 essential health benefits. To use the portal, people will have to create a HealthCare.gov account to create an account and store their information. Once people have an account, they can input their income, family size, and other factors, and see how much they might qualify for in financial assistance to help offset the cost of a health insurance plan. People can also use the portal to see if they qualify for Medicaid or any of the other health insurance programs that are available to qualified low-income people.
How to Save on Healthcare Through Smart Strategies and Good Habits
It is important to note that the Obamacare is not a cure-all for high healthcare costs. Instead, it is a major step toward improving access to healthcare and lowering the rates of uninsured and underinsured people. If you are looking for ways to lower your out-of-pocket healthcare costs, there are a few things you can do:
– Shop around for the lowest price. The more insurance you have, the lower your monthly payments will be. A person can shop around and compare different insurance providers and find the plan with the lowest price.
– Ask your doctor if he or she accepts generic drugs. Many prescription drugs are far more expensive than their generic equivalents, and most doctors don’t tell you this. Getting generic drugs instead of the expensive name-brand medications can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
– Don’t take the first prescription that comes in the mail from your doctor. Keep a written log of all prescriptions and take the medication as prescribed. This way, you will know when the medication has been dispensed and you can keep track of how many doses you’ve taken.
– Don’t see your doctor for routine care such as annual checkups and blood pressure readings. This will save you money on routine care.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a major federal law that will make health insurance more accessible, affordable, and equitable for millions of people. It is not a complete solution to America’s healthcare problem, but it is an important step forward. It can help people who don’t have health insurance while also ensuring that those who do have coverage have better access to healthcare.