Under the Obama administration, a law that changed the U.S health care system was enacted to introduce provisions on health care and basically offer benefits and protection to the average American. This health reform law is known as Obamacare with the official name as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or Affordable Care Act (CAR). It was made into law on March 23, 2010.
What is Obamacare?
This law was created with a goal in mind, allowing every American to have affordable health insurance while reducing the costs of U.S. health care. Before Obamacare, insurance companies can deny coverage to a person who has a pre-existing condition or be able to ask for high premiums from an individual who plans to get health insurance. Under the new health care law, these are not permitted. These, among other things, are just few of the benefits the CAR offers.
When Obamacare kicked in last year, half of employed Americans were able to get health insurance shouldered by their companies, one out of ten was able to get insurance subsidized by the government, those who have low incomes got qualified for Medicaid. In return, Americans are mandated to have health insurance if they can afford one unless they can apply for exemption if they do qualify or pay the penalty for every month they do not have coverage, which will be added on their year-end federal taxes.
For those who choose to get penalized, they can also get short-term health insurance to get coverage. Conversely, uninsured Americans can opt to get coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace on each state, a short of mall for insurance companies. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, one has to enroll for a minimum coverage within a time period whether he or she will use the Marketplace to get insurance coverage or not. This is known as the Open Enrollment Period.
Open Enrollment Period Explained
Annually, there are certain months where an individual can switch health insurance providers, take advantage of cost assistance or buy insurance coverage in or outside the marketplace If one fails to enroll within the period, a monthly penalty will be imposed on the months you do not have insurance coverage, among other things.
For 2015, open enrollment dates started on November 15, 2014 until February 2015. However, during the tax season, a one-time extension was allowed. Those who missed the open enrolment dates but were qualified were given until the end of April to sign up.
Facts about Special Enrollment 2015
- The special enrollment period run from March 15, 2015 to April 30, 2015.
- Those who opted for the marketplace but were not able to finish the enrollment process were given until February 22, 2015 to finish the enrollment.
- Those who did not take advantage of the special enrollment period were not able to buy insurance both in and out of the marketplace and have to wait for the next open enrollment period.
- People who may qualify for special enrollment are those who have undergone major life events such as getting married, relocating or giving birth.
- For those who have insurance from the workplace can apply for special enrollment for a duration of 30 days.
Open Enrollment Dates 2016
In February 2015, the Obama administration announced the open enrollment dates for 2016. It was set from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. Concurrently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that a rule was created to ensure health plans are improved and more information is disseminated to the public. This includes keeping the public more informed about rate increases. Meanwhile, for 2014, the enrollment dates were from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
It is important to note that those who want to have health insurance coverage by January 1, 2016 they should be enrolled by December 15, 2015 since coverage will start a month after. So, individuals who will enroll from December 16, 2015 will only be covered starting February 1, 2016. Moreover, in the coming years, it will be more likely that open enrollment dates will be from October 1st to December 15th.And while all private health insurance follow the open enrollment period, CHI and Medicaid do not have one. On the other hand, employer-based insurance and Medicare have their own open enrollment dates.
How Much Is The Fee For Not Having Health Insurance?
If you can afford one but did not choose to obtain one and is willing to pay the fine, also goes by the term individual mandate, there is a computation to arrive at the exact amount. Calculation is based on the amount over $10,150, which is the amount over the tax filing threshold. From the calculation, this will be 2% of the annual income of the household or $325 for each individual and for those under 18 years of age, $162.50. Penalty amount will be the higher of these two. This was for 2015. In 2014, amounts were 1% or $95 and $47.50, respectively.
Using the pattern, those who will not be covered in 2016 will have to pay 2.5% of the annual household income or $695 for each individual and $347.50 for children below 18 years old. This will be paid on the filing of the federal income tax return for the year.
Since the law was enacted, the government was able to exceed their projected figures for the enrollment with over 9 million enrollees. The number increased with the implementation of a special enrollment. And for 2016, the Obama administration is talking of giving $67 million within the next three years to 34 organizations which use healthcare,gov to sign up for Obamacare. The money will be used by these organizations to inform the public about their health insurance options and the financial assistance they might be qualified to receive.
The decision for the funding was a result of an assumption that enrollment turnout is dependent on the possibility that Americans who are still uninsured will prefer to be informed of the benefits of having insurance coverage on a one-on-one basis.