You probably feel like the master of your own fate when it comes to spending your hard-earned cash. But having health insurance is no longer optional.
While the law behind the Affordable Care Act can be complex, the main requirement that impacts most U.S. citizens is pretty straightforward: Most people are now required to have health insurance, or pay a penalty that starts at 1% of income (or $95, whichever is greater) for the 2014 tax year, and go up to 2.5% of income (or $695, whichever is greater) by 2016.
You may be wondering how you can afford insurance on your current salary. Or maybe you’re between jobs. But there are rules in place designed to make insurance more accessible – and benefits every plan must have, giving you more for your money.
For starters, insurers will cover the cost of regular checkups and screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure and other potential health problems -- meaning no Out-of-pocket costs for you. Women receive physical exams, counseling for contraceptives, and routine screenings such as Pap smears without co-pays or meeting a deductible .
There are a slew of other changes that affect these insurance plans: Insurers no longer put Lifetime limits on the dollar amount of healthcare expenses they’ll cover for essential services. Annual limits have been phased out, too. While this may not seem significant now, it makes a huge difference should you suffer a major accident or develop a condition that requires long-term treatment.
More big changes rolled out in January, 2014. If you apply for insurance, you can’t be turned down because you have an existing health problem. This means that if you have diabetes or arthritis in your knees thanks to an old football injury – you can get coverage.
And every plan must provide a core package of benefits. What does this mean? In the past, some plans may not have offered benefits like prescription drugs or in-patient hospital care. Now, there’s a group of “essential benefits” that are part of any plan, including hospitalization, medications, lab services (for example, if you need blood tests), and maternity care.
Understandably, many people have concerns about paying for health insurance. The law has included a few rules to help make it manageable. If you’re under 26, you can stay on a parent’s policy. That can be an economical way of getting insured.
If that’s not possible, you’ll need to shop for a policy. One way is to use one of the online Health Insurance Marketplace. They’re designed to be a one-stop shop for comparing plans and prices from a variety of health insurance companies like Humana. You can still buy directly from an insurer’s website, or you may want to ask an Insurance agent for assistance.
On January 1, 2014, government subsidies kicked in. If you buy your insurance on one of the Marketplaces and meet certain income requirements, you could get help paying your premium with a monthly tax credit and your deductible or co-pays may be lowered. Medicaid coverage is being expanded to more people by loosening income guidelines. In addition, people under 30 can opt to buy what’s called a “catastrophic” plan. The premiums are lower than they are with traditional plans and the deductible is generally higher.
The goal of the law is to make health insurance more attainable for everyone. With health insurance, you’ll be able to get regular check-ups to stay healthy, and have help covering the costs of medical treatment when you really need it.
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This information is only a high-level summary of certain provisions of the health care law. This information does NOT attempt to summarize all provisions of the health care reform law. This information is not and should NOT be used as legal or tax advice; it should not be used as a basis for decisions regarding how the health care reform law will affect you and/or your business. Should you have any questions on how the health care reform law (including the high level summary of certain provisions of health care reform) will affect you and/or your business, you should seek professional advice from attorneys or other advisors.
Insured by Humana Insurance Company, Humana Health Plan, Inc., Humana Health Insurance Company of Florida, Inc., or Humana Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana, Inc. or offered by Humana Medical Plan Inc., Humana Employers Health Plan of Georgia, Inc., or Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc.
For Arizona residents: Insured by Humana Insurance Company. For Texas residents: Insured by Humana Insurance Company or offered by Humana Health Plan of Texas, Inc.
Our health benefit plans have exclusions and limitations and terms under which the coverage may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of the coverage, call or write your Humana insurance agent or broker.