How will health care law influence how you shop for 2014 coverage?
About the Health Care Law
President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also called the health care law — on March 23, 2010. Some people call this law the biggest change in health care since Medicare and Medicaid were formed in 1965.
The good news is that this basic fact isn’t changing; health insurance is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It pays for health care services that help you stay healthy. It also covers many of the services you need when you’re sick or injured.
However, many things about health insurance are changing. The law will change the way millions of Americans buy and use health insurance. In fact, the health care law affects most people and groups that are part of the health care system. That includes individuals, businesses, health insurers, hospitals, doctors, and others.
Here are some of the ways the health care law will change the health care environment:
- People will be required to have health insurance as of January 1, 2014.
- Health plans offered to people who purchase health insurance on their own and those who receive small group insurance must include 10 core services, known as essential health benefits. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, small groups are defined as those with 50 or fewer employees. Other states define small groups as those with 100 or less employees. In 2016, all states will define small groups as those with 100 or fewer employees.
- Employees must work at least 30 hours per week to be considered full-time. Employers that provide health insurance must offer coverage to all full-time employees working full-time.
- Many single people and working families will get money from the government to help pay for their health care costs. This includes many people who the government does not help now.
- Many state Medical Assistance programs, also known as Medicaid, are expanding by offering health plans to more people who are uninsured. At this time, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has not decided if it is expanding its Medical Assistance Program.
- There will be a new way to buy health insurance: the Health Insurance Marketplace. This online website will help individuals and small businesses buy their health plans. Those who get health insurance through large employers will not need to use the Marketplace.
- Health insurers can’t deny people health coverage or charge them more for their health plan if they are sick or have a chronic health problem.
- There will not be lifetime limits on how much insurers spend on essential health benefits. Annual limits on these essential benefits will be eliminated in 2014.
- Rates for individual and small group plans will be based on age, geographic regions, whether members use tobacco, and the plan selected.
- Parents can continue to insure their adult children until those children reach the age of 26.
It’s important to learn about the health care law and how it affects you. This enables you to make the best decisions about your health insurance coverage in the months and years ahead.