You don't have health insurance, and you've heard the government is requiring everyone in the U.S. to buy it. But maybe you don't know when the law starts or where you can buy a health plan. You may even be worried about breaking the law. Fear not! Here's what you need to know.
The Affordable Care Act says that everyone in the U.S. has to have health insurance for 2014, with a few exceptions. The time to get it, called open enrollment, started Oct. 1, 2013 and runs until March 31, 2014. In the future, you'll have from Oct.15 until Dec. 15 to enroll.
Where to Get Insurance
There are several places you can get insurance:
- Through your employer. If your employer offers insurance, this is likely where you'll get the most affordable and comprehensive health plan. Many employers share the costs of insurance with their employees.
- Through your state's health insurance Marketplace, also called an Exchange. This new web site shows health plans available in your state at four levels of cost and coverage. You'll find simple ways to compare plans. You also will see how much financial aid you can get. The financial aid on the Marketplace is called a subsidy or a tax credit. You can only use it for buying a health plan on the Marketplace. You can also find out if you're eligible for Medicaid in your state.
- From an insurance broker. Brokers can help you choose a plan that meets your needs. There isn't financial aid available when you use a broker.
- From a public health group like Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA. Public health insurance offers care for free or low cost.
If you're worried about how you're going to pay for health insurance, learn about the types of financial aid available.
If You Break the Law
If you don't buy insurance, in most cases, you'll pay a penalty when you file taxes in 2015. In 2014, the penalty is $95 for each adult and $47.50 for each child. The fine won't be any more than $285 per family, or 1% of your income, whichever is more. Fines will cost you a lot more in 2015 and 2016.
Now you have several options for coverage -- and you must buy insurance, unless you are exempt.