Affordable Care Act

Simple Steps to Obamacare

Published on June 27, 2013


understanding obamacare
If you have questions about what Obamacare means to you, have no fear. Just follow eHealth’s simple guide to health-care reform, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
eHealth’s approach provides a steady, measured approach to the ACA. The law has so many layers that it’s easier to understand if you approach it in small, incremental steps.

Familiarize yourself with Obamacare’s opportunities and responsibilities:

Step 1 – Does your current health insurance plan need to change? When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it effectively created three classes of health insurance plans: grandfathered plans, transitional plans, and reformed plans.
People with grandfathered plans don’t have to change their coverage in 2014, nor do some people with transitional plans. But, changing to a reformed plan may be the best option for some people. Consumers who understand what a reformed plan covers can make better decisions about their health insurance.
Step 2 – How will you pay for health insurance? The ACA tries to reduce the amount of uncompensated care the average U.S. family pays for by requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
The Affordable Care Act’s tax penalties for people without insurance are designed, in part, to offset the cost of paying for the health care of people without health insurance.
If you earn a lower income, you may be able to qualify for subsidies that make insurance more affordable. If you understand how the subsidies and tax penalties work, you’ll be in a better position to purchase the product that suits you best.

Become familiar with new health insurance products

Step 3 – What do you need to know about America’s new “Qualified Health Plans” (QHPs) sold on and off exchanges? The way health insurance benefits are structured have changed. To shop smart, you’ll want to understand what those changes are.
Each plan must cover 10 essential health benefits (EHBs) and must have a metallic benefit level (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) starting at a minimum of 60% of the actuarial value, or average annual costs, per person. Catastrophic plans for people under age 30 with fewer benefits will also be available.
The law also limits out-of-pocket costs, deductibles, and other forms of cost-sharing, based in part on your household income.
Step 4 – What types of insurance will be available that will be sold on and off government exchanges? The ACA doesn’t create a one-size-fits-all health insurance market. Websites like will offer a broad range of QHPs and other types of health insurance products from a number of different insurance companies.
Plans sold off government exchanges will also have varying deductibles and metallic benefit levels, tiered provider networks, and varying benefits not covered by major medical health insurance plans, like vision, dental, accident, short-term, and critical illness insurance.
The price of insurance may vary based on the number of choices you want when choosing a doctor or drug coverage.

Learn how and when you can obtain health coverage

Step 5 – What’s the difference between open enrollment and a qualifying event? The  next open enrollment period when you can start to shop for health insurance plans begins in November 15, 2014, and ends February 15, 2015.
If you don’t buy health insurance during open enrollment, it may be difficult to buy health insurance unless you have a qualifying event. Qualifying events include things like the loss of a job, a move to a new coverage area, the birth of a child, or loss of existing coverage – usually because of marriage, divorce, or turning 25 and no longer being able to stay on a parent’s plan.
Without health insurance you could face tax penalties and unfunded medical bills if you get sick or injured. Get covered today by comparing health insurance plans on

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