We have all heard that 2014 is the year when significant aspects of the Health Reform Law (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA) go into effect. The health reform law affects almost everyone in some way.
Many people have questions about how the health reform law will affect them.
Some rules have actually already gone into effect, and some more are coming January 1, 2014.
For example, some changes of the ACA that have already taken place include:
- No lifetime benefit limits on health coverage; phasing out of annual limits.
- Adult children up to age 26 are eligible to remain on a parent’s health insurance policy.
- Mandatory coverage of many preventive services, with no Member cost-sharing (no copay, deductible).
- Small businesses that provide health coverage for employees can apply for a tax credit.
- Seniors with Medicare prescription drug coverage have lower cost sharing in the “donut hole.”
Some of the most significant changes that will begin on January 1, 2014 include:
- No one applying for health insurance can be denied coverage because of a pre- existing medical condition,
- No one applying for health insurance can be charged a higher premium due to a health condition.
- U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to have basic health coverage (“minimum essential coverage”) or pay a penalty. This is often referred to as the “individual mandate.”
- Exchanges, also referred to as health insurance Marketplaces, will provide an additional way to purchase insurance. Connect for Health Colorado, the health insurance Marketplace in Colorado, will open on October 1, 2013.
- Financial assistance, in the form of premium tax credits and lower Member cost sharing, will be available to qualified individuals and families who need help affording coverage when they purchase coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.
Each year individuals and families will have an opportunity to re-enroll or select a different health plan during an “open enrollment” period. Open enrollment for the 2014 plan year begins on October 1, 2013 and continues through March 31, 2014.
In other words, everyone will have the chance to sign up for 2014 health insurance starting in October and ending in March, but after March they will only be able to enroll under special circumstances(for example, the birth of a baby, moving to a new area, etc.).
In future years, the open enrollment period will begin in October and end in December, not March.
Coming soon: Specifics on financial assistance, what is actually covered, and how to apply for your 2014 coverage.
We know this is a confusing time. Let us know what questions you have, and we’ll do our best to answer them.