Whether you’re for it or against it, the Affordable Care Act is officially becoming a reality as of 2014. Now that we know for sure that the individual health insurance mandate has been upheld, people are asking more questions than ever. Here are 8 things everyone needs to understand:
1. The Supreme Court has ruled that the individual mandate is Constitutional because its considered to be a tax instead of a penalty.
2. The penalty for not purchasing health insurance is $285 per family in 2014 or 1 percent of income. Starting in 2016, the penalty increases to $2,085 per family or 2.5 percent of income. Consumers without health insurance will be charged the greater amount in each case.
3. There is a grace period if you are uninsured for three months or less. After three months, you will be charged the mandate fee.
4. The mandate starts on January 1, 2014.
5. Health insurance can be purchased online or through health insurance exchanges. Those who qualify for Medicaid will be able to apply online through the exchanges as well.
6. For those who have a hard time affording health insurance and don’t qualify for Medicaid, some may be eligible for subsidies. These subsidies will be determined by income and will available on the health insurance exchanges.
7. There is no “default” or automatic health insurance plan. People will not be signed up for health coverage or Medicaid unless they enroll in a plan on their own.
8. Starting in 2014, individuals will be guaranteed health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.