On October 1, 2013, the health insurance landscape changed dramatically as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, went into effect.
Thanks to a major overhaul of public policy, subsidized coverage can now be purchased through state-run or national exchanges, and no one can be turned away.
Changes to the status quo, however, can generate plenty of questions from folks concerned about how this new system will affect them.
To address some of the more common concerns, we’ve rounded up five essential pieces of information about the new healthcare law that you need to know.
1. You can’t be denied coverage.
The ACA’s “guaranteed issue” policy means you can’t be denied coverage, even if you’re older or have a pre-existing condition.
And no matter which level of coverage you choose — bronze, silver, gold, platinum, or catastrophic — your premiums won’t differ from those of other applicants who are the same age and live in the same geographic location.
2. You may be eligible for financial assistance.
In order to make healthcare more affordable, applicants who qualify can receive tax credits to help reduce the cost of their premiums.
This subsidy, which can be paid by the government directly to your insurance company, is available to households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
To date, nearly 26 million Americans are eligible for this financial assistance, which can reduce the cost of insurance to less than 10% of their household income.
3. There are penalties for being uninsured.
If you’re not covered by a health plan through your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, or any other public insurance program, you must purchase insurance on one of the exchanges by March 31, 2014, or pay a penalty.
For individuals, it’s $95, or 1% of your income — whichever is greater. (The fee will go up over the next two years.) However, the penalty can be waived in instances of financial hardship, and for members of certain religious sects recognized by the IRS.
4. You won’t have to worry about fine print.
Under the ACA, the essential benefits you’re entitled to are clearly spelled out, and they are included in all plans.
There are 10 essential benefits: ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; laboratory services; maternity and newborn care; mental health services and addiction treatment; rehabilitation services and devices; pediatric services; prescriptions; and preventive and wellness services, and chronic disease management.
5. There is a deadline to meet.
The key date to mark on your calendar is March 31, 2014. That’s the last day of open enrollment, the time during which you can sign up for a qualified plan, for coverage in 2014.
To find out more, GetInsured.com go to or call 855-224-9212 to get help finding the best plan for you.