What You Need to Know About Obamacare

With so much speculation running wild about the current health care reform bill – and what we will and won’t have to do when it takes effect – it can be hard to tell fact from fiction.

So here it is: a quick summary of the current health care reform bill based on popular questions regarding the future of health care:
Will I need to purchase new health insurance?

Probably not. If you already have insurance offered by your employer, or an individual plan that you really like, you can keep it. However if you don’t have insurance at all you will be required by law to purchase it by 2014 or pay a fine. You can purchase your health insurance from anywhere, but if you don’t you’ll be forced to pay either $750 dollars, or 2% of your income, whichever is greater.

Will my current insurance change?

No. Health insurance plans already in existence are “grandfathered-in” to the new market. This means that if you want to keep your plan as is, it won’t change.

But new plans will be federally regulated to make sure that a minimum number of benefits are being offered, as well as allowing for new consumer protections and an appeals process for individual health insurance consumers who want to dispute something their insurance company has done.

Is there a public option?

No. However by 2014 each state will offer buyers the option of purchasing coverage from a health care insurance exchange. These health insurance exchanges will be not-for-profit businesses regulated by the federal government to ensure that a minimum level of coverage is offered, that no pre-existing conditions are used to deny buyers, and that consumer protection laws are followed.
Can anyone purchase insurance from these exchanges?

No. Undocumented immigrants cannot purchase health insurance from the exchanges, and neither can individuals who are currently covered by an employer-provided health care plan.
What if I still can’t afford health insurance?

Individuals who make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive credits that will assist them in buying individual health insurance from the exchanges. For the very poorest people the credits may cover all of their health care premiums.
Will businesses be forced to offer employees insurance?

Some of them will. Businesses with more than 50 employees will be forced to offer health care, or pay a fee of $750 per employee.

Businesses of less than 50 people are exempt from this law. Even more, small businesses will receive a tax credit for up to 35% of the money they are paying to insure their employees. By the year 2014 that tax credit will go up to 50%, to help smaller businesses who don’t have the same bargaining power as big businesses.

Small businesses will also be able to band together to buy insurance for their employees, so they can collectively enjoy the kind of bargaining power that larger businesses have with health insurance companies.
Who will get Medicaid?

By 2014 all individuals under the age of 65 who make less than 133% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. Right now the poverty level is at about $18,000 dollars per year for a family of three.
Does the bill pay for abortions?

No. President Obama signed an executive order specifically mandating that federal funds will not be used to pay for abortions or abortion-related services.
How will this all be paid for?

Taxes on health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and medical supply companies beginning in 2014 will provide between $6.3 billion and $14 billion over the next 10 years.

Taxes on so-called “Cadillac” tax plans will also take effect in 2018. The majority of health care plans are not considered “Cadillac” plans, which cost around $8,500 per person, per year.

Finally, cuts in Medicare, and reductions in Medicare fraud and waste are projected to save $100 billion in the first 10 years, and another $700 billion in the years after.

These projections were reported by a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.