Affordable Care Act enrollment begins on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. More than three years after being signed into law by President Obama, the ACA is picking up speed and rolling out insurance reforms in hopes of improving the quality and lowering costs of health care. Here’s what you’ll need to know as a patient …
With the ACA comes the “Marketplace” — an online health insurance store that is designed to give individuals more choice and control over their health insurance coverage. The Marketplace will allow individuals to compare coverage options based on price, benefits, quality, and other important factors. Plans sold through the Marketplace are offered by private companies and are required to deliver “essential health benefits,” a core set of benefits defined by the ACA.
The Marketplace will also be able to provide coverage for those who have been denied coverage in the past and for those simply looking for other options. By law, plans cannot charge women more than men for the same plan and pre-existing medical illnesses and medical conditions cannot be grounds for denial or cancellation of coverage.
What if an individual decides not to get health insurance this year? A penalty of 1% of an individual’s taxable income or $95 (whichever is greater) must be paid by those who choose to opt out of getting health insurance.
Applications for Marketplace coverage can be made online, by mail, or in-person. Open enrollment starts in less than two months, on October 1st. Both plans and prices will be made available then for coverage starting as soon as January 1, 2014.
Learn about how the Affordable Care Act is helping people in your state at http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/bystate/statebystate.html.