Friday, January 03, 2014

Blog Series - Affordable Care Act

There are many key dates to watch for in the Affordable Care Act rollout. To start, here is what happened on January 1st.

-Coverage begins. Many low-income Americans who didn't qualify for Medicaid in the past can use it now. People who signed up for private insurance in a state or federal marketplace by Dec. 24 (or later in some states) and have paid their first premium are now covered, too.

-Coverage begins for workers at companies that have signed up for new small business plans through the marketplaces, also called health care exchanges.

-Coverage lapses for people whose existing plans were canceled, if they haven't signed up for a replacement or received an extension. At least 4.7 million people got cancellation notices, despite Obama's promise that Americans with insurance they like could keep their old plans. Obama recently gave insurance companies the option of extending old plans for existing customers for a year, but only where state insurance commissioners give their OK.

-The clock starts on the "individual mandate." Nearly all U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to have "minimum essential coverage" for most of 2014, or pay a penalty. Most people already are insured through their jobs, Medicare, Medicaid, or military coverage and so don't need to do anything.

-Insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away people in poor health or kick customers out of plans when they get sick.

-Women and people with pre-existing conditions pay the same rates as healthy men in the new plans. The law also limits how much more insurers can charge older people.

-New insurance plans can't put an annual dollar limit on care, or require individuals to pay more than $6,350 in out-of-pocket costs per year.

To read more about key dates, click here.


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