The Health & Healthcare Blog  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Consumers Will Have More Choices in Health Insurance in 2014

While many states remain split as to whether or not they will create health insurance exchanges this year, the bottom line is that the exchanges are coming, regardless. Now is the time for consumers to look past the political aspects of the new health care reform and focus on what it will provide for them.

On fact is certain. The Affordable Care Act will result in more choices being available to Americans in selecting health care insurance. While most consumers receive insurance coverage through their employers, even they will be able to shop around, along with the 30 million Americans who don't have coverage.

Through the exchanges, each state will be required to offer several levels of different plans at different prices to ensure everyone has a choice. Consumers will be able to compare plans side-by-side and choose the one that best fits their needs as well as their budget. The volume of programs throughout the states is likely to stimulate competition among providers, resulting in more affordable plans.

In addition, low-income families with incomes no more than 400% of the poverty level  will receive  government subsidies to help them purchase health insurance, making it even more affordable. Families do not have to worry about the quality of the health care programs that will be offered through the exchanges. The Affordable Care Act has set minimum standards for health insurance, and the coverage will include maternity benefits as well as mental health coverage.

Aside from a few exception categories, the penalties for not purchasing health insurance has been established as either a flat dollar amount or percentage of taxable income, whichever is greater, as follows: In 2014, 1% or $95; in 2015, 2% or $325; in 2016, 2.5% or $695. The penalties will be collected as part of annual tax returns.

For many, the sticking point comes down to the fact that the Affordable Care Act is making health insurance a requirement. Mandates and penalties are not something that most people find palatable. However, another way to look at health care reform is that consumers are going to have more access to health insurance choices than they have ever had before. It will be good insurance that meets minimum guidelines. And consumers will be more involved in the decision making.

The other significant reason for health care reform is cost reduction. There remains much debate on whether or not the Affordable Care Act will accomplish this. Its success depends upon many factors such as how many people will actually purchase health care insurance and how many will simply pay the penalty. In addition, will having health insurance send more people to their general practitioner rather than the emergency room, thereby reducing costs? This remains to be seen.

DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practictioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.
SHARE THIS PAGE: