insurance

What the Affordable Care Act Delay Means for Consumers

The Obama administration's decision to delay the mandate for businesses to provide health coverage starting in 2014 doesn't change the mandate for individuals to have insurance.

I saw in the news that the Obama administration has delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for most businesses to provide health coverage starting on January 1, 2014. That part of the law now won’t kick in until January 2015. Does this mean I won’t be penalized if I don’t have health insurance by January?

No. This news affects businesses much more than it does consumers. Employers with 50 or more full-time employees won't be subject to penalties if they don't provide health coverage next year. Workers whose companies continue not providing health insurance in 2014 will be able to buy coverage on the state-based exchanges -- and if you don’t sign up for coverage, you will have to pay a fine. (Even if the 2014 mandate had remained, some full-time workers would have had to shop for insurance on the exchanges because some employers seem willing to pay penalties rather than provide the mandated coverage.)

It is “extremely unlikely” that companies already offering health insurance will use this opportunity to drop coverage until 2015, according to editors of The Kiplinger Letter.

For health-care consumers (that’s pretty much all of us), everything remains the same for now:

-- If you already have health insurance through your employer, you’ll probably see few changes in 2014 specifically because of the health care law (although premiums may continue to rise, as they have for the past several years ).

-- If you buy health insurance on your own, open enrollment for the exchanges is still scheduled to begin on October 1 for coverage to start on January 1. Learn more about shopping for insurance on the exchanges.

Starting in 2014, insurers will no longer be allowed to reject anyone for coverage or charge them more because of their health. The law also sets limits on how much insurers may charge older buyers. For example, premiums for a 64-year-old can be no more than three times as much as they are for a 21-year-old.

-- People whose modified adjusted gross income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level can qualify for subsidies to buy coverage on the exchanges (if they don't have other coverage that meets certain standards). Learn more about whether you might qualify for a subsidy.

-- Individuals who choose not to have health insurance will still be subject to a fine -- 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher. The penalty gradually increases until 2016, when it is 2.5% of your income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

Most Popular

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space
Budgeting

Planning to Sell Your Home in Retirement? Downsize Costs Along With Space

In this hot real estate market, consider the costs of buying and selling a house along with the expenses associated with your new digs.
November 13, 2020
What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration
Politics

What Biden Will Do: 24 Policy Plays to Expect From the Next Administration

The Kiplinger Letter forecasts President-Elect Joe Biden’s biggest priorities -- and the likelihood of progress on them.
November 19, 2020
The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

The 13 Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy for 2021

Most of the best healthcare stocks for 2021 will have some sort of ties to COVID, whether it's producing a vaccine or cure, or benefiting from the vir…
November 20, 2020

Recommended

Making Wise Choices During Open Enrollment
health insurance

Making Wise Choices During Open Enrollment

Contributing Editor Lisa Gerstner runs through the new variables of the 2020 open enrollment season. Also, hosts Sandy Block and David Muhlbaum talk a…
November 17, 2020
What the New President Means for Your Money
Politics

What the New President Means for Your Money

President-Elect Biden wants more consumer protections and perks for the middle class and seniors.
November 17, 2020
Big Changes Likely for Social Security, Medicare Under a Biden Presidency
Making Your Money Last

Big Changes Likely for Social Security, Medicare Under a Biden Presidency

The new president and a fresh Congress will sooner or later have to face the twin safety net programs, both sorely in need of help.
November 10, 2020
What Happens to Medicare If the Affordable Care Act Is Overturned?
Medicare

What Happens to Medicare If the Affordable Care Act Is Overturned?

Experts say if the ACA is repealed or rescinded "it would be devastating for Medicare." Here's what might happen -- and how it could be costly for you…
November 4, 2020