BRADENTON -- Health care insurance exchanges for the Affordable Care Act open for business this coming Tuesday, October 1. Companies will begin selling health insurance policies on open exchanges to people who don't have coverage through their employer, the VA, Medicare or Medicaid. Some Floridians will qualify for tax credits toward their premiums.
People who do not qualify for an exemption will face a fine for not having insurance. In 2014, it is $95 for an individual or 1 percent of income, whichever is more. However, the fines increase each year, reaching the greater of $695 per year (up to $2,085 for a family) or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.
Deciding whether the fine or the insurance will cost more will depend on a variety of factors, including the unkown of how much unisured health costs the person will incur that year which would have been covered under their insurance.
The biggest change under the exchange insurance policies will be the fact that you can't be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. Coverage you buy starting October 1 takes effect January 1. Those who don't sign up by March 31 of next year, can't sign up again until October 15, 2014, for coverage that won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2015.
Some will qualify for a subsidy via an Advance Premium Tax Credit, that must be used with a plan rated at least "silver." Plans are rated from bronze to platimum based on cost of coverage vs. cost of co-pays or "cost sharing," meaning the cheaper the monthly premium, the more that will be owed as a co-pay.
According to estimates, those at the bottom of the subsidized income range could pay as little as zero premium for a bronze plan, or a low premium (2 percent of their income) for a silver plan with cost-sharing subsidies and small copays. People in the lowest income range (below 139 percent of poverty or below) will not face a penalty if they don't qualify for Medicaid, but decide they can't afford the subsidized insurance.
Those eligible for the exchange can fill out an application for insurance at healthcare.gov.
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