March 23rd 2010: President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act into law.
October 1st 2013: Open enrollment begins in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
January 1st 2014: Coverage begins in the Health Insurance Marketplace for plans purchased before December 15th, 2013. Most Americans must now have health insurance or risk a fee for remaining uncovered. The fee is $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of your income – whichever is higher. You are considered covered if you have any type of health insurance plan, a job-based plan, Medicare, Medicaid, CCOBRA, CHIP, VA health coverage, or retiree coverage, among others.
March 31st 2014: Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace ends.
The Health Insurance Marketplace
The Health Insurance Marketplace, or the health insurance exchange, helps uninsured, or poorly insured, Americans find coverage they can afford. Using the Health Insurance Marketplace you find out whether you qualify for lower-cost health insurance based on your income and the size of your household. If you qualify you can buy subsidized health insurance that gives you essential healthcare benefits, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and cover for preventive care. If you don’t qualify you can use the Marketplace to buy insurance at standard prices – you benefit from being able to choose from federally approved insurers that offer clearly explained and transparent insurance plans. Americans making less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level will generally be able to claim discounts in the Marketplace. Four-hundred percent turns out to be roughly $46,000 for individuals and $93,500 for families. You can use the Marketplace wherever you live in the United States. In some states the Marketplace is operated by the government and in others it is administrated by the state itself.
Obamacare and Business
Employers with over 50 employees must provide Obamacare-approved insurance to workers or pay a penalty fee. What about small businesses? The process of arranging health insurance for employees has always been complicated, but Obamacare sets out to simplify the system. Obamacare includes the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a new procedure that claims to cut the hassle in buying health insurance for a small business. The SHOP marketplace is similar to the Health Insurance Marketplace and it is currently running for a 2014 start. The Marketplace is for businesses with fewer than 50 full time employees. Benefits of SHOP include the ability to control the cover you offer for your employees, and how much you have to pay towards employees’ health insurance premiums. In order to use the SHOP marketplace you must offer health insurance to every one of your full time employees (full time typically means people working 30 hours or more a week). The marketplace system allows business to compare plans online to make it easier to see which plan is best for their needs. Some businesses qualify for a healthcare tax credit through the SHOP system, which will begin in 2014. There is a SHOP Marketplace for every state.
Who is Eligible for Obamacare Benefits?
Obamacare is the President’s crusade because he claims it will improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans by offering better-quality services, providing preventive care services, and by raising standards in basic healthcare provision. The Act is seen by many people in the States as an improvement on existing healthcare systems for a number of reasons. Several sectors and types of people in the United Sates will benefit from Obamacare legislation. For example, people who were previously dropped from healthcare plans or refused coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions will be able to find affordable plans in order to continue or start quality treatment. Before, many people were charged higher premiums based on their gender but this will be outlawed with Obamacare. Consumers now have better legal standing against insurance companies should there be a dispute regarding coverage. Low-income Americans that couldn’t find affordable health insurance, and consequently were uninsured, will benefit by being able to buy discounted plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Middle-income families may also benefit from the Marketplace and its health insurance discounts. Americans that can’t access good quality health insurance through their employers will benefit from Obamacare, which aims to take the health insurance power out of the hands of the insurers and give consumers more choice. Businesses must offer healthcare insurance to workers if they have more than 50 employees, and if they don’t then the Marketplace will help uninsured workers buy their own plans. This will save many employees from having to access healthcare through the emergency services. In addition, the Medicaid system is expanded to cover more than 15 million uninsured Americans. However, Obamacare doesn’t benefit everyone in the United States.