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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

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Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is the law that has led to health care reform. The full name of the law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law has three main goals. 1) Help more people have health insurance. 2) Reduce the cost of health care. 3) Improve how people get health care.

Under the law:

If you don’t have health insurance and you make more than $10,000 a year ($20,000 for a family), you'll most likely need to buy it by Jan. 1, 2014. If you don't, you'll pay a penalty.

Each state will have a Marketplace, also called an Exchange, where you can buy health insurance. It will be available to you online, on the phone, or in person. In the Marketplace, you can see all the health insurance choices for your state in one place.

You may be eligible for financial aid, called subsidies, to buy insurance. How much aid you get depends on how much you make a year, how many people are in your family, and where you live. Many families with an annual income less than $94,200 a year will get some financial help.

Your children can stay on your plan until they turn 26.

If you have a health problem, you must be accepted by any health plan you want. You cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Even if you have a chronic condition or a serious accident, your health plan has to pay for your essential benefits no matter how much they cost. You can get all the care you need for the services on the list of essential benefits without worrying that your health plan will stop paying its part.

A chronic condition is one that can't be cured but isn't immediately life threatening. Some chronic conditions are allergies, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

Essential benefits include emergency services, staying in the hospital, maternity and newborn care, prescriptions, and others.

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