The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law March 2010. Over the ensuing three years, various provisions of the law have gone into effect. The newly created health insurance marketplaces opened for enrollment on October 1, 2013. Implementation of the law continues through 2014 with provisions taking effect on these key dates.
January 1, 2014
- Health plans purchased on a health insurance exchange by December 23, 2013 take effect. All Americans, with a few exceptions, are required to have health insurance coverage by this date.
- Citizens who do not have health insurance in 2014 will be assessed a "shared responsibility payment." The law does allow a three-month lapse in coverage during the year without penalty. This makes April 1, 2014 the actual date citizens must have a policy in place to avoid the fee.
- In 25 states and the District of Columbia, households with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for subsidized health insurance through the Medicaid program.
- Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must offer insurance benefits to their employees, but they will not be subject to penalty until 2015.
- Businesses with fewer than 25 employees may be eligible for a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount they contribute to the insurance premiums of their employees.
- Insurers may no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. An exception to this law is non-group policies that were in effect prior to the new law (grandfathered plans). The law allows insurers to continue these policies without requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions.
- Insurance companies may no longer set annual or lifetime caps on essential health benefits. This includes grandfathered plans, although some plans received a waiver for 2014 on the yearly limit rule.
March 31, 2014
- Open enrollment ends for purchasing 2014 polices in the health insurance marketplaces. An open enrollment period is the time when consumers may purchase a new health plan. Individuals who have experienced a life change may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Changes in family size, state of residence, employment or income may qualify individuals for a special enrollment period.
November 15, 2014
- Open enrollment likely to begin for 2015 policies. Originally 2015 open enrollment was set to begin on October 15. However, the Department of Health and Human Services is likely to soon confirm that it will be delayed until this date because of the the 2014 elections.
December 31, 2014
- Grandfathered health plans that do not comply with the ACA will expire. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to assess the impact of this provision to determine if these plans should be extended into 2015.
Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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