Affordable Care Act

Understanding Obamacare

Updated on February 13, 2020


The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. A major overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, Obamacare aims 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. Recently, Obamacare has seen some changes from our new president. Read on to see what has changed and how this may affect you.
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Obamacare tax penalties

The ACA’s tax penalties for people without insurance were designed, in part, to offset the cost of paying for the health care of people without health insurance. But as of December, 2017, the Trump administration passed a tax bill repealing the individual mandate. The individual mandate was part of Obamacare’s health care reform which required most people (excluding those who qualified for a hardship or other exemption) to either have health insurance, or face a fine. This will still be in effect for 2018, so make sure you are covered with some form of ACA compliant health insurance this year if you don’t want to pay the fine.
If you earn a lower income, you may be able to qualify for Obamacare subsidies, which are designed to make insurance more affordable. The Trump administration has also cut payments to insurance companies which compensates them for keeping deductibles low. The law, at least for now, still required insurance companies to keep deductibles low regardless of where the money comes from. So in other words, for now, you should still apply for subsidies and expect them to help lower the cost of health insurance for you and your family.
If you understand how Obamacare subsidies and tax penalties work you’ll be in a better position to purchase the health insurance product that suits you best.

Obamacare Open Enrollment Period

This year, the Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is the time frame during which you can start to shop for newly reformed health insurance plans for the upcoming year, begins on November 1, 2018 and runs until January 15, 2018.

Qualifying life events under Obamacare

If you don’t buy health insurance during the Open Enrollment Period, it may be difficult to buy ACA-compliant health insurance unless you experience a qualifying life event. Qualifying life events include things like the loss of a job, a move to a new coverage area, the birth of a child, or the loss of existing coverage, which is usually because of marriage, divorce, or turning 26 and no longer being able to stay on a parent’s plan.

Be aware that without Obamacare-compliant health insurance, you could still face tax penalties this year and unfunded medical bills if you get sick or injured. eHealth also sells supplemental and alternative health insurance products, so if you don’t have a qualifying life event and it is past open enrollment, you can get coverage by bundling these products. See you options on Keep in mind that these products are usually not ACA-compliant and will not protect you from the tax penalties that still apply in 2018.
To help find the right health plan for you, enter your zip code where requested on this page to see a quote.

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