Obamacare Dictionary: All the Terms You Need to Know Defined Simply
NEW YORK (MainStreet) With all that's being written about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a lot of terms are getting thrown around. Phrases like "unsubsidized premiums" and "state exchanges" come up over and over again, with relatively little guidance on what any of them actually mean.
A lot of complex issues do surround the new health care law, mostly because insurance is an incredibly complex and highly regulated market. More rules mean more regulatory language. Here's a quick list, however, of some of the ones that might matter to you:
Affordable Care Act/Obamacare Interchangeable. Obamacare is political shorthand for the Affordable Care Act (the ACA).
Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum The levels of health plans available through the new insurance exchanges, in escalating order of price.
Death Panels Fictional. No government bodies will decide who can or cannot access health care. If you have a problem with coverage, talk to your insurance provider.
Employer Mandate The requirement that all employers with at least 50 full-time or equivalent employees provide health insurance to those employees.
Essential Benefits A set of benefits that the ACA will require as part of all new insurance plans.
Exchanges New marketplaces set up for individuals to buy insurance, largely operated online. Consumers will see these as a series of cost-regulated plans that anyone can purchase.
Full Time or Equivalent Employee Someone who works at least 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month.
Individual Mandate The requirement that all Americans have or purchase health insurance beginning in 2014.
Navigators Third-party agents assigned to help people understand and sign up for coverage.
Premium Cap The monthly cap premiums before you begin collecting insurance subsidies. For a personal breakdown of charges and savings, see the fantastic Berkeley Calculator.
Small Business Tax Credit A tax credit given to businesses with 25 or fewer employees which offer health insurance.
Subsidies Also known as tax credits, and not to be confused with tax deductions. Credits lower your taxes dollar-for-dollar, and result in a refund if you end up owing less than you paid. Under the ACA, insurance subsidies will come in the form of tax credits for which anyone making less than 400% of the federal poverty level can file.
Tobacco Surcharge Under the ACA insurers can increase premiums on smokers by up to 50% due to the increased health risks of tobacco. This surcharge is not covered by tax subsidies and increases current law which allows a maximum 20% adjustment.
Unsubsidized Premium The raw price of insurance, before applying any credits or adjustments.
--Written by Eric Reed for MainStreet