6 Things You Must Know about Obamacare and Health Insurance
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) At least one good thing has come from the Affordable Care Act . In spite of all the political posturing, Obamacare is causing a lot of people to ask questions about health insurance. The uninsured and self-employed have particular questions, as do young adults facing their first policy purchase. And annual enrollment for employer-sponsored health insurance is looming for millions of Americans who purchase their health insurance at work.
According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly two in three uninsured Americans say they will get insurance by the deadline of January 1, 2014, rather than pay a fine as mandated by the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). One in four say they will pay the fine. Less than half of the uninsured say they plan on getting health insurance specifically through a federal or state health insurance exchange .
But among the age group most likely to be impacted by mandatory health insurance, nearly one-third (31%) of 18- to 29-year-olds might be faced with paying a stiff penalty. That's the number of young Americans who say they don't even know about the new law requiring health insurance.
Don't put it off
Joel Winston is a former deputy attorney general for the state of New Jersey, now a New York-based consumer issues attorney. He says that while the deadline for obtaining health insurance may seem a long way off, the application process will take quite a bit of time.
"Enrolling in a new health insurance plan with unfamiliar features and options is a lengthy process and consumers should budget extra time to understand their options and complete the application," Winston says. "The forms will take a few hours to complete, especially if you're not familiar with insurance industry terminology , such as deductible, co-payment, co-insurance, exclusions and out-of-network. And if you've never applied for health insurance in the past, expect the insurance application process to take as long as completing your yearly taxes."
Coverage previously unavailable at any cost
A major benefit touted by proponents of the PPACA is the strictly-enforced availability of coverage, regardless of previous medical history and pre-existing conditions. And millions of Americans will qualify for subsidies to help pay for health insurance, while millions more will be newly eligible for government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
"Remember, before the Obamacare health care reforms, insurance companies could reject insurance applications based on their present or future risk and were able to rescind coverage, which resulted in insurer abuses," Winston says. "Prior to the PPACA, health insurance was one product that some people just could not buy, no matter how much money they were willing to pay. Under the new law, every health insurer must offer essential care and services, including maternity care."