Effect of Obamacare on You

How Obamacare Impacts You

How Will Obamacare Affect Me?
••• Photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 affects everyone in different ways. The health insurance exchanges allow shopping for health insurance plans. Everyone must have health insurance for nine months out of the year or pay a tax.

When does Obamacare start? Enrollment for 2018 coverage started on November 1, 2017. There are several more deadlines of which you need to be aware.

Here's a quick and easy guide to help you find out how Obamacare affects you. Just scroll down to your particular situation to get the details.

...If I Already Have Insurance

If your insurance was created before March 23, 2010, when the ACA was signed, your plan doesn't change. Instead, it’s "grandfathered in," and doesn't have to provide the required Obamacare benefits. For that reason, you should compare it to plans on the exchanges because you might get a better deal.

If your plan was created after March 23, 2010, it's either changed to meet the new requirements or the company canceled it. That forces you to get new insurance. For example, the ACA requires all insurance plans to keep you covered if you become chronically ill. They can't drop you even if you made a mistake on your health insurance application. They can no longer limit the coverage you receive over your lifetime. Plans can no longer deny you coverage if you or your child has a pre-existing condition.

Your state must approve all rate hikes. It must allow you to add your children up to age 26. Plans must contain the 10 essential health benefits. These are obligatory health services every Obamacare plan must cover.

If you have insurance through your company, it may stop sponsoring your coverage. Instead, it could offer you a subsidy to buy insurance on the exchange instead. Some smaller companies find it more cost-effective to pay the penalty. They know their workers can get coverage on the exchanges. Other small businesses might shop the exchanges themselves to get a better deal. The Congressional Budget Office estimates between 3 million to 5 million employees lost their existing plans as a result.

Keep in mind that companies offer health insurance as a benefit to attract good employees. They'd rather do that than pay higher wages. It provides a tax benefit for them. So most company plans probably won't change.

...If I Don't Have Insurance

You must have insurance for nine months out of 12 or pay a tax of as much as 2.5 percent of your income. You can shop for the plan that meets your needs on the healthcare exchanges. The exchanges will also help you find out if you qualify for tax credits or other government health benefits. States were given substantial Federal grants to fund the exchanges. Find out your state's status.

If your income is 138 percent or less of the Federal poverty level, your insurance costs will be covered by Medicaid unless you live in a state that hasn't expanded Medicaid coverageFind out if your state expanded Medicaid.

If your income is under 400 percent of the poverty level, you get a tax credit each month to help pay for insurance. 

How Obamacare Affects Medicare

The ACA has increased your benefits if you have Medicare. It requires that all wellness and preventive care visits are free. If you have Medicare Part D, Obamacare pays more for prescription drugs if you fall into the donut hole. By 2020, the donut hole will be eliminated. Seniors will again have to pay this charge if Trump repeals and replaces Obamacare.

How Obamacare Affects Small Businesses

All businesses with 50 to 99 employees must provide health insurance or pay a tax of $2,000 per employee. This is mandatory for all but the first 30 employees. That obligation started in January 2016.

If your business has 25 employees or less, you can receive a tax credit of 50 percent of the costs of health insurance. All businesses with less than 100 employees can shop for insurance on the exchanges. They may offer better alternatives than you can get now. If you provide health insurance to early retirees, aged 55 to 64, you can get Federal financial assistance. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program has the information on how you may avail of this. The site managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is another good source of information on how small businesses must comply with Obamacare.

 

To discover more ways Obamacare affects you, see my book "The Ultimate Obamacare Handbook."