Obamacare is the slang term for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). It makes health care more affordable for everyone by lowering costs for those who can’t afford them. Obamacare is essentially a framework of federal rules around health-care coverage. It aims to reduce the amount of uncompensated care the average U.S. family pays for by requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Going forward in this article, ACA and Obamacare will be used interchangeably and will refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The original coverage requirement in Obamacare included a tax penalty for those that did not purchase a health insurance plan. This is known as the individual mandate. The penalties were designed in part to offset the cost of paying for the health care of people without health insurance, due to hardship situations or other exemptions.
In December 2017, the Trump administration passed a tax bill repealing the individual mandate. This repeal is still in effect in 2020, eliminating the fine for those without health insurance plans in most states. A few states do have their own mandates in 2020, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The specific coverage you receive with your plan under Obamacare will vary based on the plan you choose. However, the act has required coverage for some medical services, including:
Under Obamacare, insurance companies cannot refuse you coverage or charge you more for your plan if you have a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition is one that was diagnosed before your new insurance coverage began.
The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is the time when you can shop for a new health insurance plan for the upcoming year. The OEP for 2021 plans will run from November 1, 2020 to December 15, 2020. Some states operate their own exchanges such as PA, NJ, MD, etc and they extended the Open Enrollment to 1/31/2021. If you do not enroll in a plan during the OEP, you may not be able to purchase ACA-compliant coverage unless you experience a qualifying event, such as:
If you find yourself without insurance and are not eligible for a qualifying event, you may be able to enroll in a short-term plan depending on the state where you live. Contact eHealth to learn more about your choices in short-term plans that can provide you with the coverage you need until the next OEP.