Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling upheld President Obama’s new healthcare laws (you know, “Obamacare”). This ruling included the polarizing individual mandate—the ability for the government to levy a tax on individuals who can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, essentially requiring health insurance by law.
Health insurance is confusing enough already. Trying to make sense of health insurance terms like coinsurance, deductibles and copays will likely send you back to the doctor to beg for anxiety meds. And the new law has changed everything again. Very briefly, here’s what the new healthcare laws—now that they’re here to stay—mean for you.
If you are uninsured:
The individual mandate begins in 2014. This means that you must carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. In 2014, the individual mandate penalty will be $285 per family or one percent of your income, whichever is greater. In 2018, the penalty goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5 percent of income.
There are some exceptions for low-income individuals and those for whom health care premiums would cost more than eight percent of gross income.
The good news is that the new state-run health insurance exchanges required by the law by 2014 should make buying individual insurance easier than it is now.
If you are insured:
If you are under 26 and gained health insurance as a result of the healthcare laws, you will be able to remain on your parent’s health insurance until age 26. This is a huge win for millions of young adults who are still in school or working one or more entry-level and/or part-time jobs that do not provide health insurance.
Beginning in 2014, the law makes it illegal to deny applicants health insurance or charge unrealistic premiums to people with a pre-existing condition.
If you utilize a Flexible Spending Accounts to save tax-free money for medical expenses, the annual pre-tax saving limit will be $2,500 in 2013.
Other parts of the law:
The new healthcare law has a lot of components with wide-ranging implications. Here are a few changes the law made that will remain in place:
- Restaurants with more than 20 locations must list calorie counts on every menu item.
- Doctors must disclose goodies they receive from medical supply sales reps.
- Employers must provide rooms and breaks especially for breastfeeding where working mothers can express breast milk during the day.
- There is a 10 percent federal tax on tanning services.
Has the healthcare law changed how you use or view health insurance for better or worse? Let us know in a comment.