Life without health insurance–or with inadequate health insurance–is an incredibly stressful juggling act that may mean going without food to pay for medicine or medical care, or neglecting necessary medical care in order to pay the electrical bill.
These are decisions that no one should face in a country as prosperous as ours.
One of the core goals of the Affordable Care Act is an effort to ease that problem by providing both a mechanism and a motivation for all Americans to secure adequate health insurance.
The Mechanism=The Marketplace
The mechanism to increase the number of insured people in the U.S. is called “The Health Insurance Marketplace” — sometimes called “the exchange” or simply “the marketplace”.
The Marketplace is simply a one-stop online shop to compare the insurance options available to you in our state.
The State of Arizona will work with private insurance companies to ensure that they meet basic requirements for coverage and rates. Those companies will then be authorized to offer their policies through the online site.
You will fill out one application online to find out what your options are in terms of coverage and deductibles. You will also be able to find out if your income qualifies you for programs that will help lower the cost of insurance. Also ones that lower your out-of-pocket costs. You will be able to find out if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage through AHCCCS or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Open enrollment starts October 1, 2013. Coverage starts as soon as January 1, 2014.
The Motivation=A Penalty Paid With Your Taxes
The motivation for people who may not have coverage through an employer or Medicaid/AHCCCS is that beginning in 2014, most people who don’t have health insurance will pay a penalty.
Just as your car insurance provides proof of insurance, your health insurer will provide documentation that you will submit with your Federal Tax form. If you do not have insurance, the penalty will be either a percentage of your income or a specific dollar amount. Both options phase in and grow, with the percentage option growing from 1% in 2014 to 2.5% in 2016. The dollar amount for an adult without insurance starts at $95 in 2014 and grows to $695 in 2016.
Adelante Healthcare Will Be Here to Help
As a community health center, Adelante Healthcare is committed to helping our families get well, be well and live well. We are working to build the resources needed to help our communities navigate the potentially confusing months as this program begins to roll out October 1.
Yesterday, that effort got a huge boost when U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Phoenix. She announced nationwide grants intended to help centers like ours educate and enroll millions of Americans in these programs.
We’ll keep you up-to-date here on the blog and on our Facebook page on how you can get involved — and how to help your neighbors get involved.
If you’d like to start educating yourself now, two great sites for information are: https://www.healthcare.gov/ and http://kff.org/health-reform/.