Health Reform and You
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. This comprehensive health reform includes provisions aimed at expanding coverage, controlling healthcare costs, and improving the healthcare delivery system.
Some key features of the law are a mandate which began in 2014 that requires that all legal U.S. residents obtain health insurance coverage, and a mandate beginning in 2015 that requires large employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.
Additionally, the government’s Medicaid program is being expanded in approving states under the ACA, and uninsured people now have access to health insurance through state, or federally-operated insurance marketplaces or “exchanges.” For those who qualify, the law makes financial assistance available to purchase health insurance.
The ACA impacts individuals differently depending on their current status of health insurance coverage, such as whether they are uninsured or are already covered under an employer’s insurance plan, other private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act, insurance marketplaces, Medicaid expansion, financial assistance and the impact of health reform on businesses, follow the links below.
Health Insurance Marketplaces
Health insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges,” are available online, by phone, or through a person trained and certified to help you enroll in a plan. In the marketplaces, plans compete with each other, ideally providing consumers with the most competitive premiums. The open enrollment period for the 2015 benefit year begins on Nov. 15, 2014 and extends through Feb. 15, 2015.
A key provision of the ACA is the expansion of Medicaid, a government health insurance program for low-income people, to those earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines. States have the ability to choose whether to expand their Medicaid programs under the act. In approving states, uninsured people who qualify for enrollment under the expansion of Medicaid have access to extended health coverage.
To help with compliance under the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, a significant number of Americans are eligible for financial assistance through the ACA. Consumers can learn about the assistance they qualify for so they can receive the greatest financial help toward buying health insurance coverage.
The Affordable Care Act includes a number of provisions that pertain to employers. One mandate requires businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. This provision is effective for large employers in 2015. Businesses with between 50 and 99 employees will have until 2016 to phase in coverage for their employees.
Please follow the links below for more information about health reform and its impacts.
Kaiser Family Foundation's health reform webpage
Refer to this resource for the latest information and tools for understanding health reform and how it affects you.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' ACA key features timeline
View the major features of the ACA by year and learn more about each provision by accessing this link.