Today, the Supreme Court upheld most of Obama’s healthcare plan, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by a narrow 5-4 vote. But what does this mean for people like you and me? Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
When will the law go into effect?
Actually, parts of the plan have already gone into effect. For example, new health plans are required to provide free preventative care for services like colonoscopies and mammograms, and young adults are covered by their family's insurance plan until they turn 26. So parts of the plan have already been implemented, but with this ruling, we'll see more changes to come. And many of the major changes will happen in 2014.
What are some things to look forward to?
Consumers will see a lower cost of medications and more preventative care coverage. You'll also be able to access the new health insurance exchange programs (see video explanation here) which are said to be the healthcare version of online travel companies like Orbitz. Competition among the companies are expected to drive down insurance prices. Other benefits of the plan include more help for people who can't afford insurance, and insurance companies won't be able to deny people with preexisting conditions coverage.
What's this about a fine if I don't get health insurance?
If you aren't covered by insurance by 2014, you need to get it or be subjected to a fine. In 2014, uninsured people will face a fine of $95 or one percent of their income, and in 2015, the penalties are even steeper. This fee is meant to encourage younger people in good health to take up insurance, and the money go towards funding for the older patients and those who aren't in good health. Those exempt from this fine includes people make very little income, certain religious groups, and families who pay over eight percent of their income to insurance premiums even after employer contributions and federal subsidies.
Read on for more.
How will consumers fund the new law?
In 2013, people who make more than $200,000 have to pay an additional 0.9 percent tax for the Medicare Part A payroll tax, on top of the 1.45 percent they already pay. This will help fund the healthcare changes. Those who make money through investments might have to pay a 3.8 percent tax on what they make on capital gains and dividends. The mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine will also help fund these new efforts.
How does this affect insurance companies?
In 2014, insurance companies will not be able to exclude or limit coverage to people who have current or past health conditions.
My employer doesn't provide us with insurance. Will this change?
In 2014, businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to insure their workers or pay a $2,000 fine per uninsured worker. This places more pressure on your employer, but it doesn't necessarily mean the company will comply.
Is this law here to stay?
Nope. It will stay in effect for now, but the future of the plan depends on the outcome of the November elections.