Health insurance can provide for you in the event that you become sick or get injured. It can also help you avoid major health issues by providing for preventive care. A number of changes are taking place in health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Some of the legislation’s provisions have already been implemented while others are scheduled to be phased in over the next few years. You can read more in our guide to Understanding the Affordable Care Act.
What if I don’t have health insurance coverage?
The Affordable Care Act requires individuals to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage during the open enrollment period of October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014 or to pay a penalty. The penalty exemption will be handled when you file your federal income taxes.
The penalty fee in 2014 is one percent of the individual’s income or $95, whichever is higher. The fee will increase to 2.5 percent of income or $695 per adult in 2016. The penalty is applied monthly for each month one is not insured. If you're uninsured for just part of the year, 1/12 of the yearly penalty applies to each month you're uninsured. If you're uninsured for less than three months, the fee is waived. The penalty fee is paid on the federal income tax form filed at the beginning of the subsequent year.
After open enrollment ends on March 31, 2014, individuals may not be able to purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace until the next annual enrollment period, unless they have a qualifying life event.
Employers with greater than 50 employees are mandated to offer health insurance to employees or pay a penalty after January 1, 2015.
What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
One of the components of the law is the Marketplace, or exchange. This online Marketplace serves as a way for individuals to purchase health insurance and obtain subsidies if their income is 100 percent to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Upon application to the Marketplace, consumers may also be declared eligible for other programs like Medicaid and the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) based on their household income. If you qualify for Medicaid you will purchase health insurance through the Bayou Health Plan. You can also continue to purchase insurance through an agent certified to sell insurance on the Marketplace or through an insurance company.
You can find out more about the exchanges by going to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website www.healthcare.gov.
If you have questions about how to enroll in a health insurance plan, you can call our Office of Health or contact a licensed producer.