The purpose of the ACA is to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance. By expanding individual insurance coverage, the government hopes to reduce the costs of healthcare for itself and all Americans.
On June 28, 2012, after a challenge from Republicans, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA; however, states cannot be forced to participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program. Regardless, as of May 2014, approximately 20 million Americans are covered under the new law and the percentage of uninsured Americans dropped to 13.4% from 18% in May 2013.
When is the last day to sign up for health insurance?
Currently, if you have not signed up for coverage, the last day to sign up for health insurance is February 15, 2015. If you do enroll by this date, coverage can begin as soon as March 1. However, after this date, the only option for late enrollment or changing the specifics of your plan is if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. According to HealthCare.gov, the only individuals who will qualify for this enrollment period are those who have experienced “certain life events that involve a change in family status.” Such life events could be marriage, the birth of a child or the loss of health coverage. If such events occur, you qualify for a special enrollment period of 60 days following the event, whereas job-based plans must provide a special enrollment period of 30 days.
What happens if I don’t sign up for health care?
If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to purchase coverage, you must pay a fee sometimes called the “individual responsibility payment” or “individual mandate.” According to the following link at Healthcare.gov, lack of coverage means you will pay the higher of two amounts: 2 percent of your yearly household income or $325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). Detailed explanations for the maximum penalty in each case can be found by following the link highlighted above.
If you choose not to purchase coverage, you can also apply for exemptions from payment; however, there are specific requirements in order to qualify. For example, your income must be too low to file a tax return or you may qualify for a “hardship exemption.” More information can be found by following this link.
You should note, however, that if you are applying to Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), these programs provide free or low-cost coverage to Americans with limited incomes and as such, and these programs have no deadlines. Additionally, many states have expanded Medicaid enabling more individuals to qualify, so you should contact Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to speak with a representative if you would like to learn more about your state’s healthcare marketplace or for all other questions. For individuals and their families, representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.
For more helpful tips, information about dental coverage, or to learn how to choose a plan, visit the following link at Healthcare.gov and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see a list of options under “Take action now.”
For those who currently have healthcare through the ACA government website or state run exchanges, you should be getting your 2014 tax form soon if you received a subsidy.