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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

At-a-Glance: How the Insurance Mandate Affects You

For a few years, we've heard that almost everyone in the U.S. needs to buy health insurance by 2014. But what does that mean for you?

Chances are, you won't need to do anything differently. If you're like many Americans, you get health insurance through your workplace, and you can keep that coverage.  

However, depending on your situation, you may need to act if you want to avoid paying a fine. 

You Don't Have Health Insurance

You have several ways to get insurance to be covered in 2014. If you don't get it, you'll have to pay a penalty on your taxes in 2015. To get the details, see "No Insurance? What You Need to Know."

You Can't Afford Insurance

Although the law now is that almost everyone has to have health insurance or pay a fine, there are quite a few ways for you to get help to pay for it, including:

  • Staying on your parents’ plan if you're 26 or younger
  • Qualifying for a subsidy, which is money from the U.S. government to help lower your insurance costs
  • Enrolling in catastrophic plan, which is a lower-cost health plan for people younger than 30
  • Qualifying for Medicaid

It's possible that you are exempt, meaning you don't have to pay insurance or pay a fine.

To get the details, see "Mandated to Get Insurance but Can't Afford It."

You Are an Immigrant

If you're a naturalized citizen or legally immigrated to the U.S., you must buy insurance or pay a fine unless you're exempt.    

If you're not legally in the U.S., the law requiring people to buy insurance does not apply to you.

In either case, see "Immigrants: How the Insurance Mandate Affects You" to learn where you can get insurance and health care.

You Already Have Insurance

In most cases, you can keep your current plan if you have insurance and won't need to do anything new for 2014.

If you buy insurance on your own without help from work or another group, you may be required to switch from an older health plan that does not meet the law's minimum requirements to a new plan that does. Even if your insurer offers you a new plan, you have the option to shop for a plan from your state's Marketplace, also called an Exchange. You might qualify for financial help, called a subsidy.

Two instances where you might need to change your health plan are if you've been getting insurance through a spouse's employer or if you've been using a catastrophic plan. To get the details, see "Have Insurance? How the Mandate Affects You."

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