By Paula Walter
Although the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was signed in 2010, there are four upcoming additions to the law that will kick in on January 1, 2014 when all citizens of the United States will be required to have health insurance unless they are eligible for an exemption. In June of 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate requiring all those eligible for the Affordable Care Act to obtain health coverage or face a penalty.
Opinions across the nation and in our own Johnson County are mixed as to the mandate requiring everyone to have health care:
I dont like it because its going to be all on the young generation to pay for it, said Barbara Coyne. They are going to have all this national debt to pay and insurance to pay. I think it could be good if they take time to implement it. They should not let Congress opt out of this health insurance. They should be like everyone else. No one should be able to have that option, including the unions. Not one soul should be able to be opted out.
To me, the mandated insurance is like communism, said Missy Gentry. You are taking your personal decisions away.
I feel the real problem is requiring employers to give employees insurance, said John Coolahan. I think its going to force management to change full time employees to part time to deny insurance. They will go to part time to avoid the mandate. Obamacare is noble. Trying to get insurance for everyone is a good thing. Its just this country cant afford it.
I dont like it, said Joanna Newman. I cant see where it would benefit our nation because our nation is so in debt. From previous experience with dealing with the VA and the healthcare there, its awful. The amount of paperwork load supersedes the amount of service the veterans receive. They get on long lists. There is very little follow up. They get sent from place to place and often have tests repeated. Its a gross negligence on the part of the government that takes care of our veterans. These are the people who have sacrificed their life for our freedom. The people that I have talked to that like Obamacare are the ones that are the takers in society and the givers.
It is estimated that currently 15 percent of all Americans are uninsured. Insurance companies can no longer turn people down or charge outrageous rates based on their medical history or any pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy or disabilities. They will no longer be able to drop you or members of your family if you become sick. They may not raise their rates without justification or impose lifetime limits. Parents may now keep their adult children on their policy until they are 26 years old. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to offer preventative care services, such as yearly check ups, mammograms and colonoscopies at no out of pocket expenses to you.
Beginning October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014, individuals may go online to www.healthcare.gov to a healthcare marketplace where you can shop for and sign up for insurance.
Reports at this time indicate the site is very difficult to access and any progress often comes to a stop after you create your account.
If you have Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or you are insured through your employer, you do not need to make any changes to your insurance coverage. When you sign onto the website, you will be asked basic information, your age, if you are a smoker, your household income and size. Low and moderate-income individuals and families may qualify to receive financial help to pay for the healthcare premiums. The tax credit would be able to be used immediately to help offset the cost of the insurance. It is expected many applying will be eligible for assistance of some type. Only the healthcare marketplace plans offer these subsidies or assistance. It may pay to check other healthcare insurance companies and compare rates. The costs for your healthcare insurance are also determined by the state you live in, as well as the city. The United State government does not set the premiums and plans the insurance companies offer as that is up to the healthcare industry. Your coverage for insurance purchased through the marketplace will be effective January 1, 2014.
The participating insurance companies in the healthcare marketplace are offering four different tiers of coverage; platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Each of the plans offers the same basic coverage for everyone, but the difference is the monthly premiums and how much of the medical costs you will have to pay out of pocket. This is similar to current plans where you may pay a low rate, but have a high deductible and have to cover a percentage of the medical fees.
You may be exempt from the Affordable Care Act if you are uninsured for less than three months a year, you are here in the United States illegally, if you are in prison or a member of a specific Native American tribe. You may also be exempt if your income is too low and you do not file an income tax return, or if the cost of the insurance would be more than eight percent of your total household income. You could also be exempt if you belong to a church with religious objections to insurance or you are a member of a health-sharing ministry. There are also hardship exemptions you may apply for that may apply if you are homeless, evicted in the last six months if you are about to be evicted or looking at foreclosure on your home. There is an extensive list of exemptions on www.healthcare.gov/exemptions.
The penalties for not purchasing some type of health insurance will run $95 per adults and up to $285 per family for the first year the plan is in place. In 2016, the price increases to $695 per adult and jumps to $2,085 for families. The penalties imposed are meant to help offset the medical costs for those who do not have health insurance.
For more information, visit the website where you may search the site, find answers to your questions, chat online with a representative or call the toll free center at 1-800-318-2596 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By Paula Walter