Understanding the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act builds on government health programs already underway, like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It was proposed by President Obama in 2010, approved by the U.S. Congress in 2012 and becomes law on Jan. 1, 2014.

It allows anyone and everyone in our country to receive health-care coverage regardless of income, prior coverage, pre-existing health conditions, age and several other factors. Rather than focusing on the treatment of disease, health care will now focus more on health and wellness initiatives to prevent you from becoming ill.

Currently, 32 million Americans nationwide don’t have health insurance. Now, everyone will be required to have a health insurance plan with the exception of: those people experiencing financial hardship, religious objectors, American Indians and Native Americans, those without coverage for less than three months, undocumented immigrants, people in prison, any person whose income is so low that the cost of health insurance is greater than eight percent (8%) of his income, and anyone with incomes lower than $9,350 for individuals and $18,700 for couples. If a citizen does not obtain coverage, he will have to pay a penalty fee of $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, 2.5 percent of his total income in 2016 and then more in 2017 and beyond based on a cost-of-living adjustment determined by the federal government.

Employers with 50 or more employees will be required to offer health insurance not later than 2015 or face heavy penalties for not doing so. It is up to the employee to determine if he wants to accept the plan offered by his employer or get an individual plan. Employers with fewer than 50 employees aren’t required to offer health insurance, but must inform employees of the available options, which includes purchasing an individual plan through a company like Heavin & Associates.

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