Fast Facts: Obamacare questions answered
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), otherwise known as “Obamacare,” is not guaranteed universal healthcare for all or forced health insurance. It is a law signed by President Obama that will, in summary, eventually ensure every citizen of the U.S. has access to a variety of health insurance plans. It will also call for the examination and/or change of current laws and regulations in health care.
4. Should I buy insurance?
Although health insurance plans will not be forced upon the general public (available at https://www.healthcare.gov/), a “penalty tax” will be enforced on those not purchasing any health insurance, not receiving a plan from an employer, or not on Medicare or Medicaid. This tax, which will go into effect in 2016, calls for either 2.5 percent of income or flat rates of $695 for an individual and $2085 for a family. Low-income-bracket families will be unaffected by this tax.
3. How is the health care industry changing?
Health insurers have been notorious for denying or overcharging those with so-called “preexisting conditions,” meaning that in the past, if one had some kind of ongoing illness or recently caught a terminal illness, health insurance prospects looked grim. However, the PPACA will mandate that, subsidized or privatized, all health insurance costs will be determined by an algorithm based on age and location.
Another major change are the supposed “insurance exchange” reforms. The PPACA claims that comparing various insurance policies has been confusing in the past, so the PPACA calls for aiming to clarify this.
From the plan’s signing, anyone under their parents’ health insurance plan can remain eligible until the age of 26.
Although not all states are adopting this, as it is unconstitutional for it to be made national law, one of PPACA’s goals is to widen Medicaid’s requirements, making more accessible.
2. What are my options?
Although the website suffered from technical difficulties recently, https://www.healthcare.gov/ , the website from which citizens may purchase a plan, is live. Factors such as age, location, economic status and other factors come into play, but overall there are five categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Catastrophic. Bronze has the lowest monthly premium but the highest co-pays and out-of-pocket fees. Platinum, on the other hand, has the highest monthly premium but the lowest co-pays/out-of-pocket fees. Silver and Gold fall towards the middle of the spectrum.
The Catastrophic plan is a bare minimal plan and is characterized by its very high deductibles, designed to only protect from worst-case scenarios, such as accidents or sudden illness. It is only available to those under 30 who cannot afford a regular plan.
Currently, PPACA plans are in “open enrollment.” Through March 31st, 2014, anyone may sign up for a plan.
1. How is the PPACA going to be paid for?
First of all, those with current, private health insurance will be unaffected. They will simply keep paying into their own insurance like usual. Second, the overall strategy of the PPACA is that the healthy outnumber the ill, so most people will be paying more than taking out in the long run, not unlike standard health insurance.