Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest Health Tracking Poll, released September 28th, delves into the public’s uncertainty pertaining to open enrollment and introduction of the Affordable Care Act’s most prevalent features. Most Americans are primarily concerned with how much the law will cost them, as well as the fundamentals on how the law actually works. Over 1500 people were surveyed, with the sample size consisting of a well-balanced mixture of democrats, republicans, insured and uninsured Americans.
Let’s dive into that primary concern of how much health care is going to cost you and who is going to pay for it with the new ACA provisions. Having health insurance will be required for almost all Americans as of January 1st, 2014. There are four different ways you can obtain coverage:
1. Your Employer
2. The Government
3. Buy your own
More than half of all Americans have health insurance through their employers. If this is the case, then for you, nothing changes. You’ll continue going to work and your employer will continue paying your premiums. We are going to see some employers drop health insurance from their benefits package and others add it. There are several moving parts regarding penalties and requirements placed on businesses that will affect their decision to provide or not provide health insurance to their employees.
For others, the Government will be stepping into help people purchase health insurance. States have set-up exchanges (think of it as a marketplace) to go compare, shop and purchase insurance. Within these exchanges you may find you qualify for fully subsidized insurance. Medicaid programs have been expanded in the sense that now more people will qualify. This program is fully funded by the Feds. If you qualify, your coverage is free!
Now, there are a handful of folks who are not required to purchase health insurance – those include the incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, member of an Indian tribe, member of a religion opposed to benefits from a health insurance policy, family income below a certain threshold or if you would still have to pay 8% of your income for health insurance - after taking into account any employer contributions or tax credits. For everybody else, you will have to buy your own insurance! This may seem daunting – however, there are additional tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies you may qualify for (e.g., an individual WA resident making less than $46,000/year, or family of four making up to $94,000/year). To see if you qualify, see visit our cost-estimate calculator at wa-exchange.com.
Furthermore, the exchanges are open now! In fact, as indicated by the findings of the Kaiser poll, a large majority (85%) of the public still don’t know they can begin shopping today for coverage that begins January 1st .
Open enrollment runs now-March 31, 2014. For more information, take advantage of your local resources by contacting the Washington Health Insurance Exchange, in Tumwater, at 360-464-1622.