Healthcare Reform and Plan Options

By Thomas Cazneau

Many changes will be made within America’s healthcare system starting January 1, 2014. By
then, all American citizens and other legal residents must obtain medical coverage or else pay a penalty. This is due to the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Although there will be a few exemptions to this mandate, most of us will be affected by
Healthcare Reform.

Below are some of the options that will be available to those without insurance and to those
needing to switch to a government-qualified health insurance plan or just improve benefits and updates. Also included is information
about the Exchange and how they can help consumers:

Enroll in the expanded Medicaid/Medi-Cal program.
In 2014, more people can qualify for the Medicaid/Medi-Cal Federal Program. Currently, Medical is available, mainly, to seniors, children, or disabled persons. In 2014, the program is being expanded to also be available to people whose gross income is 133% below the Federal Poverty Level. While this part of healthcare reform will not go into effect until January 1, 2014, states can choose to expand coverage with Federal support anytime before this date prior to 2014 based on certain criteria.

Apply for a government subsidized Exchange plan.
The Exchange is like a government shopping mall for health insurance. Essentially, it’s a marketplace where consumers can buy medical coverage from participating carriers, and receive government subsidies, if they are eligible. The main factor to determine if someone is eligible for a Healthcare Reform subsidy will be a person’s gross income. Click Calculating Potential Insurance Cost in 2014 to see if you and your family could qualify for subsidies for plans under the Exchange.

Purchase a standard health plan outside the Exchange.
In 2014, health insurance carriers and providers, such as Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross, may offer medical plans that are only available outside of the Exchange. These plans would be a good option, mainly, for consumers whose income is too high and therefore not eligible for government subsidies.

Join a group health plan if offered by your employer.
Joining a group health plan may be the best decision for some of those seeking health insurance by January 1, 2014. It depends on your employer and how much they are willing to supplement your health insurance premium cost. Small businesses could qualify for a tax credit. For more information, click Business Tax Credit.

These are the general ways that someone can find insurance in time for the big day. We recommend that those without coverage start shopping for health insurance at least by October 1, 2013. This is the date when more benefit details will be made public regarding the Healthcare Reform options under the Exchange and government-qualified health insurance
plans.

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