The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it is more commonly known, opens its health care exchange October 1, affording consumers three months to pick a health care plan that suits them until January 1.
Families and individuals can shop the exchange for health care plans in four different varieties: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Each of these has their own benefits, with Platinum carrying the highest amount and benefits decreasing down to Bronze. All 50 states will have their own marketplace, with some run by the federal government and some run by the individual states.
Q: Does everyone need to sign up?
A: If you already have health insurance you do not need to pick a new plan from the health care exchange. The uninsured will be the only party being fined if they do not buy a health care plan by the deadline.
Q: What if you don’t think you can afford it?
A: The government has put in place tax credits which are specifically designed to help lower-income households cover the cost of their health care plans. You can claim the tax credit in advance rather than paying up-front for your health care plan and then waiting for your tax refund. Generally, the government will apply those credits directly to your insurer, ultimately reducing your premium cost.
Q: What if you simply do not want to enroll?
A: You will be fined with no exceptions. The penalties begin April 1, where they start small and gradually increase up until 2016. Essentially, you are dealing with a sliding scale of monetary fines for three years.
Breakdown of Fines:
Families – $285 or 1% of total household income (whichever is greater, applicable every year)
Individual adults – $95 or 1% of total income
Families – $975 or 2% of total household income
Individual adults – $325 or 2% of total income
Families – $2,085 or 2.5% of total household income
Individual adults – $695 or 2.5% of total income
Statistics and data from: Dailyfinance.com