Health care is a hot topic. Changing health care to make it better, more affordable, and within reach of more people is even a hotter topic. That’s why you hear so much about health care reform. But what does it mean for you? Here’s a run-down of five key things to know.
You must have health insurance
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare") put health care reform in action. This law makes it easier for people in the United States to get health insurance. Plus, it can provide federal financial assistance to those who need help paying for it. The Affordable Care Act also pushes for every person to have health insurance. If you don’t have it, you may have to pay a tax penalty. It doesn’t matter if you’re out of work or between jobs, if you own your business, go to school full-time, or are an early retiree. The law says you need to have health insurance. The good news is you have choices.
You can count on coverage and standard plan features
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you don’t have to worry about being turned down for health insurance if you have a preexisting condition, or an ongoing health problem.
You can also count on every plan having standard features, known as “essential health benefits.” For example, your annual check-up and routine shots are 100% covered when you visit an in-network provider.* Lots of other services are standard, too.
You can stay on a parent’s plan until age 26
The law makes it easier and less expensive for young adults to get health insurance, too. Children can typically stay on a parent’s plan until they turn 26. (Check with the individual plan to be sure, since some states and plans have different rules.) Plus, kids can join or stay on a parent’s plan even if they're married, not living with their parents, going to school, not counting on their parents for money, and able to sign up for a plan where they work.
You can shop and compare plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace
The Marketplace is an online shopping center based at HealthCare.gov. It’s a great place to start if you don’t have health insurance or want to find your state Marketplace, if your state has one. You can see what your options are, compare plans, and buy the plan you want. You can also find out if you qualify for federal financial assistance for your Marketplace plan.
Plans in the Marketplace are grouped by metal levels, which are based on how you and your plan share the cost of your health care bills. For example, Platinum plans pay the highest portion of your health care bills (90%) and come with the highest price tag. Bronze plans pay 60% of your medical bills and come with a lower price tag. So, if you know you'll need care for a medical condition, you may want to shop around and check out all the Marketplace Platinum plans. If you’re pretty healthy and don't expect you'll need much care, you may want to check out all the Marketplace Bronze plans. Once you review your options, you can buy the plan that’s right for you.
You may be able to get federal financial assistance
The Affordable Care Act also puts health insurance in reach for those who need help paying. Getting financial assistance depends on your household income and how many people live in your home. If you qualify, you may be able to get aid toward your Marketplace plan from the federal government.
*Plans may vary. Includes eligible in-network preventive care services. Some preventive care services may not be covered, including most immunizations for travel. Reference plan documents for a list of covered and non-covered preventive care services.