FACT #1 The Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, is the "law of the land." Parts of it were implemented in 2010 and other major parts will be implemented in January 2014. Although Congress has voted to repeal it over 30 times, they have not been successful. A recent poll showed that 42% of Americans were unsure of whether or not the Affordable Care Act was really going to go through. So if you weren't sure, you have good company!
FACT #2 Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies face new regulations. Most importantly, they cannot deny anyone coverage or charge more based on pre-existing conditions, including mental health disorders. They cannot end coverage or charge more if you become sick. They cannot charge women more than men or people with physical or mental illnesses more than healthier people. These regulations will go into effect on January 1st, 2014.
FACT #3 There is an "individual mandate," a requirement to have insurance or face an annual penalty. In 2014, the penalty will be $95/adult and $47/child (up to $285 for a family or 1% of the family's income, whichever is greater). In 2015, the penalty will be $325/adult and $162.5/child (up to $975 for a family or 2% of family income, whichever is greater). In 2016 and beyond, the penalty will be $695/adult and $347.50/child (up to $2,085 for a family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is greater).
FACT #4 Not everyone will be required to have insurance. These people include: people who would have to pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance, people with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes (in 2012, $9,750 for a single person and $26,000 for a married couple with two children), those who qualify for religious exemptions, undocumented immigrants, people who are incarcerated, and members of Indian tribes.
FACT #5 People who are required to buy insurance will be able to get financial assistance to pay for commercial health coverage (the option if you don't have insurance through work, Medicaid or Medicare). They can purchase this coverage on the Marketplace, where insurance companies cannot deny them coverage or charge them more based on pre-existing conditions. Using this subsidy calculator, you can get a rough idea of the assistance you might get.
FACT #6 There is a ton of information, sometimes contradictory. For reliable information, go to:| 1) Kaiser Family Foundation's website: www.kff.org/health-reform. Check out their Health Reform FAQ page here. 2) NAMI National's Health Reform website, Got You Covered