The Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, has been causing plenty of confusion. Here are a list of the most frequently asked questions and some simple answers.
If your question is not on this page, please post it in the comment box below and our staff will work to track down an answer.
When Do I Have To Sign Up?
If you want to be eligible for benefits as soon as possible, sign up by December 15, 2013. Benefits will start January 1. If you’re looking to sign up as late as possible without incurring a fine, sign up by March 1, 2013.
How Do I Sign Up?
Visit the Affordable Care Act website and follow the prompts to choose a state.
What Will Happen if I Don’t?
The IRS will fine those who don’t enroll by March. For an individual, that fine is either $95 per person or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. For a family of four, the fine is either $95 per person and In 2014 the payment for uninsured children is $47.50 per child, capped at $285, or 1% of your household income, whichever is higher.
In 2015, the penalty will be $325 for each adult and $162.50 for each child, up to $975 per family, or 2% of family income, whichever is higher.
In 2016, the penalty will be $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child, up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher.
Note that you only pay the penalty for the months you are not covered.
How Much Will it Cost?
You can use this calculator to find out how much the Affordable Care Act will cost for your income and family situation (please refresh your browser if the calculator isn’t loading)…
Can I Keep My Own Insurance?
So long as you have “minimum essential coverage,” you’re fine. To understand the definition of “essential,” visit the official explanation webpage.
You should also learn the difference between medical discount plans and health insurance plans, since discount plans alone will not satisfy the law’s minimum coverage requirements.
What’s the Difference Between Bronze/ Silver/ Gold/ Platinum/ Catastrophic Plans?
The lower your monthly payment, the more you’ll pay at the doctor’s office. The Bronze plan is the cheapest per month, but won’t cover as much of the cost of each doctor visit, prescription or health care service that you use. The Bronze and Silver plans will benefit people who are generally healthy and rarely use medical services. The Gold and Platinum plans will cost more per month, but for those who make frequent trips to the doctor, it is expected to pay off in the long run.
Catastrophic coverage is only available to individuals under 30, or older individuals who can demonstrate extreme hardship, and only covers major events like terminal illnesses and major trauma.
Is There Any Way to Get Out of This?
The government is permitting some exemptions, for financial hardships or religious reasons. You qualify for an exemption if…
•You have insurance for at least nine months of the year
•You are an illegal immigrant. Legal immigrants are eligible
•You’re in prison, not awaiting disposition
•You’re a member of a recognized Indian tribe
•Your don’t have to file a tax return, because your income is too low
•The lowest-priced coverage would cost more than 8 percent of your household income
•You’re a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance, including Social Security and Medicare
•You’re a member of a recognized health-sharing ministry
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed this chart which explains exemption eligibility.
What if I Don’t Have the Internet?
If you cannot enroll online, you can call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-318-2596.
Should I Pay For Advice?
No. Never. The Better Business Bureau is warning that scammers are calling people to offer paid advice and ask for personal details. Never give out personal information through an unsolicited call. They say you should hang up on “government officials” who call, text or email to “verify” personal information; government agencies will never make these types of requests.
What if I’m Still Confused?
Enroll Alaska representatives will be at Central Peninsula Hospital later this month to help answer questions and enroll local residents. They will be available at the hospital until March 31, 2014.