Because of the Affordable Care Act, almost everyone in the U.S. needs to buy health insurance starting in 2014. But what does that mean for you?
Chances are, you won't need to do anything differently. If you're like most 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. If you don't get it, you'll have to pay a penalty on your taxes.
You've Found Insurance Too Expensive in the Past
The law provides financial assistance to help people with low and moderate incomes to better afford health insurance. They may:
- Qualify for a subsidy, which is money from the U.S. government to help lower your insurance costs
- Qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for people with low incomes
If your income is low enough, it’s possible that you are exempt, meaning you don't have to buy an insurance plan or pay a fine.
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.
If you're not legally in the U.S., the law requiring people to buy insurance does not apply to you.
You Already Have Insurance
In most cases, you can keep your current plan and won't need to do anything new for 2014. This is true whether you have employer based insurance, a private plan, or insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
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.