Health Insurance Health Care Changes

The majority of individuals and families with health care coverage receive insurance through their employers. This means that, if they become unemployed, finding adequate, affordable health insurance can be difficult.

Beginning in 2014, changes in health care will make finding insurance for the unemployed easier and more affordable; in fact, unemployed Americans, those denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and anyone who otherwise can’t afford premiums will reap the most benefits from the health care law.

Changes in health care law taking effect in 2014 include:

  • Subsidized insurance: To make insurance more affordable, some individuals and families will qualify for subsidized insurance in 2014. People who have incomes of less than 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines will qualify for subsidized insurance. The amount that individuals and families spend per year on insurance premiums will also be capped at between 3 percent and 9.5 percent of income.
  • Expanded Medicaid eligibility: Medicaid provides health care for low-income individuals and families. Changes in health care make individuals and families who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid.
  • Coverage for preexisting conditions: It’s common practice for insurance companies to deny coverage to anyone with a preexisting medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes. Starting in 2014, denying coverage for preexisting conditions will be illegal. High-risk insurance programs that provide subsidized coverage for preexisting conditions will also make insurance easier to obtain.
  • Coverage for young adults: Young adults under the age of 26 will be allowed to remain on their parents’ health care plans under the new health care law. This will help health insurance access for students or those who have recently graduated.
  • Required health care: Under new health care laws, individuals and their dependents must have health insurance by 2014, either through an employer or a private insurance company. Exceptions to this include American Indians and those who have religious beliefs that prohibit or discourage health care. Those who are unemployed or able to prove financial hardship are also exempt from this rule.

What If I Don’t Get Insurance?

Beginning in 2014, failing to obtain insurance will result in fines that will rise each year:

  • In 2014: $95 or 1 percent of income (whichever is higher)
  • By 2016: $695 or 2.5 percent of income (whichever is higher). A cap will be placed on the penalty so it does not exceed $2,085 per family.

These fines do not apply to families who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level and anyone unable to find a plan that costs less than 8 percent of their total income.

While all Americans will be affected by changes in health care, the health care law will allow people who are currently uninsured or can otherwise not afford health care to obtain insurance.

Resources

Bernard, T. (2010). For consumers, clarity on health care changes. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/your-money/health-insurance/22consumer.html?_r=1.

Epstein, L. (2010). Health care bill passes: How will it affect you? Retrieved July 8, 2010 from http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/03/22/health-care-bill-passes-how-will-it-affect-you/.