Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Healthcare Marketplace is Open! - Affordable Care Act 101

The Government may be in a gridlock right now, but the new Healthcare Marketplace developed by the Affordable Care Act opened yesterday! You can access it here at https://www.healthcare.gov/. Many people still have questions about what these changes mean for them and what steps they should take next.

We will try to answer some of your questions here:

What is the Affordable Care Act?
On March 23, 2010 the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. The Affordable Care Act is essentially a remodel of the current US healthcare system that strives to:
-Make healthcare affordable to all US citizens.
-Encourage greater utility of preventative care and screenings.
-Have almost every citizen covered by some health insurance plan.

What is the Healthcare Marketplace?
The healthcare marketplace allows you to shop for an insurance plan that works best for you and your family. The marketplace application will let you know what you are eligible for based on your income, and allows you to compare coverage options side by side.

How to I access the Marketplace? 
You can access the Marketplace online:  https://www.healthcare.gov/
Over the Telephone: 1-800-318-2596
and in person. To find a location near you, call the number listed above or type your zip code into the "find local help" section on the following linked page https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/

Who can buy insurance through the online marketplaces?
Individuals and families who are not offered affordable health insurance through their employer, those who are uninsured or under-insured and businesses with fewer than 50 employees can buy health insurance through the exchanges. “Unaffordable” insurance through an employer is considered to have premiums that are more than 9.5 percent of household income.

Will this be costing me money? 
It depends, but probably not as much as you've heard in the news.  If you already have insurance through your job, this probably won’t directly affect your monthly premiums — and could actually end up saving you money in the long run by eliminating your co-pays for preventative care, like regular check-ups and STD screenings. If you don’t have insurance, on the other hand, you’ll be eligible for a plan in the new marketplaces and you’ll have to pay a premium for it. That’s more expensive than paying no monthly premium, but arguably cheaper than going uninsured and having to pay out of pocket for all of your health services, plus the penalty for not getting insurance. Depending on your income (and whether or not your employer offers an insurance plan), you could receive federal subsidies to help cover part of that premium.

 What if I can’t afford any health coverage?
If you can’t afford health coverage right now, the Affordable Care Act hopes to change that for you. There are two ways the health reform law could accomplish that. If your income falls below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (for reference, that’s about $15,415 for an individual and $26,344 for a family of three), you could be eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage under the law. But it depends on where you live. Although the Affordable Care Act initially intended for the Medicaid expansion to be universal, the Supreme Court ruled that it should be optional — so now, not every state is participating.
You could be eligible for federal assistance to afford an insurance plan in the new insurance marketplace  in your state. federal subsidies are also available to help Americans buy plans on the newly-created marketplaces, most of the options will be relatively inexpensive.

How Long do I have to sign up for a plan?
The initial open enrollment period started yesterday, October 1st, 2013 and ends on March 31, 2014 with some coverage plans projected to begin as early as January 1 2014. 

Still want more information?
the following is a short clip that gives additional information on the changes that will be happening due to the Affordable care act. It is also available Spanish by clicking here.


Don't wait! Start talking about your options for healthcare today!
And don't forget to visit https://www.healthcare.gov/

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