A New Healthcare System for a New Year
As we turn the calendar to 2014 tonight, we’ll also be turning the page to a new era of healthcare coverage in this country. While consumers are already enjoying many of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the majority of the law’s provisions kick in tonight at midnight. So, what exactly changes when the ball drops?
- Insurance plans must cover pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies can no longer turn down Americans with pre-existing conditions from coverage.
- Premium subsidies will kick in: The ACA provides subsidies to insurance premiums for millions of working and middle class Americans. Learn if you qualify for premium subsidies or lower out-of-pocket costs here.
- Medicaid will expand in many states: Beginning tomorrow, millions of low-income Americans will have access to Medicaid for the first time. 25 states and the District of Columbia are choosing to expand their Medicaid program under the auspices of the ACA, and 3 million Americans have gained insurance under the Medicaid expansion. Check if your state is expanding Medicaid here.
- Individuals won’t be capped for yearly costs on essential benefits.
- Many small employers will begin to qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50% of their contribution towards employees’ premium costs. Learn if your small business qualifies here.
- Most notably, coverage begins in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- New insurance plans available through the Marketplaces begin taking effect tomorrow.
- 2.1 million Americans have already enrolled in Marketplace plans (1.1 million through healthcare.gov, and another 900,000 through state-based Marketplaces). This falls short of the administration’s goal of 3.3 million enrollees through December, but is considered sufficient for the plans to be effective and operational. (These numbers do not include the millions of Americans newly eligible for Medicaid under the expansion.) Open enrollment in Marketplace plans continues through March 31.
- Most importantly, as a result of these new plans taking effect tomorrow, millions of Americans will have health insurance for the first time, beginning tomorrow.
Consumers should be aware that Americans choosing to stay on ‘grandfathered plans’ may be exempt from some of these new requirements.
The combined effect of these monumental reforms is a fundamental shift in America’s health insurance system. As millions of Americans enroll in new and reformed plans, we can only hope that more Americans will live healthier and happier in 2014.