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14 Things You Need To Know About Obamacare

Like most Americans, you've probably heard of "Obamacare," but you're not exactly sure what it is. According to your uncle's Facebook posts, it sounds pretty scary, like maybe it's going to turn America into a Kenyan Soviet Union or something.

Well, good news: Obamacare is probably not going to do that! What a relief, huh? What other mysteries about the new health-care law can we clear up for you? Huffington Post health care reporter Jeffrey Young has 14 answers, for starters:

1. What is Obamacare, exactly?

"Obamacare" is a nickname for the Affordable Care Act, a controversial law Congress passed and President Obama signed in 2010. To the chagrin of Republican opponents, who are still trying to kill the law, the Supreme Court declared it constitutional in 2012.

Its goal is to get health insurance to more Americans, 48 million of whom currently don't have any. This includes making it easier for people who aren't insured through work to buy their own insurance.

Obamacare also ends some notorious insurance practices. Now insurers can't exclude people with pre-existing conditions, can't kick patients off their plans when they run up big medical bills, and can't set dollar limits on how much care they'll cover. The law also says consumers' out-of-pocket costs generally can't exceed $6,350 for a single person or $12,700 for a family in a year. If a serious illness or accident creates costs above that amount, insurance pays all the bills.

Obamacare also sets "minimum essential benefits" every insurance plan must cover, including prescription drugs and maternity care. Many plans today don't include such benefits. Health screenings and birth control are available at no cost when you get them.

2. What if the government shuts down because Republicans want to stop Obamacare?

It doesn't really matter. Ironically, the program will continue even if the federal government is technically closed for business.

3. Why is it called "Obamacare?"

Because Obama pushed for its passage. Republican opponents first started using the term as an insult, but then Obama embraced it. Now everybody calls it Obamacare. Although perhaps Obama should reconsider, as "Obamacare" doesn't poll nearly as well as "Affordable Care Act."

4. So do I need to do anything?

Probably not, if you're one of the roughly 80 percent of Americans who gets health insurance through their job or a family member's job, or is enrolled in a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program. Congratulations, you might be done with this article.

If you're really worried about it, you should check with your employer about how your benefits might change in 2014.

And if you buy your own insurance, or if you aren't insured, then you will likely need to know and do some things.

5. OK, I buy my own insurance, what do I need to know? What do I do?

You may find that your current plan isn't available next year because it doesn't meet the new standards set by Obamacare. That's good news because you'll probably be getting better health insurance. Bad news: you may have to pay more. You'll be able to shop for a new plan on new health-insurance exchanges.

6. What's a health insurance exchange? Sounds communist!

"Exchange" is the technocratic term for the government's new health-insurance stores, which are run either by your state or the federal government. Also called "marketplaces," these web sites let you comparison-shop for various health plans. Massachusetts has had an exchange since 2006 and has the lowest uninsured rate in the U.S.

The exchanges are also the main way for people to get help paying for their coverage.

To find out what kind of policies are available, and what kind of help you're eligible to get, you'll have to give the exchange some basic personal information like your age, where you live, your income, family size and whether you smoke.

The exchanges are open to most everyone, but people who have health benefits at work or are in government programs like Medicaid are probably better off keeping what they have.

Click here to find the exchange for your home state.

7. A government-run health-insurance market? What could possibly go wrong?? That is sarcasm, by the way.

Sarcasm noted. Not shockingly, there have been glitches in the online exchanges. Officials hope to fix them between the time they open for business on Oct. 1 and Jan. 1, when coverage starts under the new plans.

8. OK, so how much will health insurance cost me under Obamacare?

Alas there's no simple answer to this question. Insurance premiums will vary a lot.. The national average price for a high-deductible plan is $249 a month, not counting subsidies -- but coverage like that would cost $144 in Minnesota and $425 in Wyoming. Rates are based on age, geographic location, family size and, sometimes, tobacco use. The insurance plans will differ a lot by monthly premium and by what share of medical bills you have to pay out of pocket.

The good news is that, under the law, women can't be charged higher rates than men, as is the norm in most states now. Older people also can't be made to pay more than three times what younger people pay now. Some states currently let insurers charge older people five times more than younger consumers, or even greater.

obamacare costs

9. So how will the government help me pay for health insurance?

It gives you tax credits, based on your income, to help cover the cost. If you take the credit in advance, the government sends money straight to your insurance company to cover some of your premium. Or you can pay the full cost and claim the credit when you file your taxes. Tax credits are available to people who earn between the federal poverty level and four times that income, or about $11,500 to about $46,000 for a single person.

Extra discounts are available to those who earn up to 250 percent of poverty, or $28,725, for out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and co-payments.

Depending on where you live, you also might qualify for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor, if you earn up to 133 percent of poverty, or about $15,300 for a single person. Only about half of states are using Obamcare money to expand Medicaid, though.

10. What's happens to me if I defy Obama's socialist takeover and refuse to get health insurance?

The law says nearly every legal U.S. resident must get health coverage or pay a tax penalty. This is the dreaded "individual mandate." That's to make sure fewer people have to get care at hospitals that isn't paid for or results in big debts. It's a conservative idea, believe it or not.

If you already have health insurance, you obviously don't have to worry about this. If you earn less than $10,000 a year, you don't have to worry about this. If you can't find a health plan that costs 8 percent or less of your annual income, you don't have to worry about this. There are a handful of other exemptions to the law.

11. How much will this penalty be?

It will start out at $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher, (unless you make less than $10,000, in which case there's no penalty). The penalty starts rising in 2015 and 2016, ending up at $695 or 2.5 percent of income. The IRS has more details on this fun penalty here.

This penalty will not require you to write a check: The IRS will take it out of your tax refund, if you have any. The IRS can't come after you if you don't pay it one year, butinterest could build up over time. No matter what, though, you can't go to jail over it.

12. Can I keep my doctor under Obamacare?

There's nothing in Obamacare that dictates what health-care provider you see. Same as always, different insurance policies have different doctors that are "in-network" or "out-of-network." You've just got to make sure that your doctor is in the network of whatever policy you get, or expect to pay more to visit her.

Be warned, though: Many of the health plans sold in Obamacare exchanges will havefewer choices of providers than those typically offered by employers. This is the downside of keeping costs low -- although for many people without insurance, their provider choice is limited to the emergency room. Exchanges have been trying tobroaden their lists of providers ahead of enrollment.

13. Who can help me learn more and sign up?

Obamacare exchanges have telephone hotlines available to walk you through the application process. is the federal government's main website for information and enrollment, and includes links to the state-run exchanges and tolocal groups offering help. The federal hotline is (800) 318-2596. State-run exchanges have their own.

If this sounds too daunting to do alone, there are also Obamacare sherpas, known as"navigators," "in-person assistors" or "certified application couns.... Private organizations like Enroll America can also help. Insurance agents and brokers will be happy to take your business, too.

State health agencies and Medicaid offices also may be providing help, as willcommunity health centers that mainly serve low-income and uninsured patients. Information about what to do and where to find help will be distributed from a variety of sources, including community organizations, churches, charities, pharmacies, hospitalsdoctors' offices and public libraries. The availability of help will vary greatly from state to state: Some states have resisted Obamacare's implementation because of political opposition from Republican governors and lawmakers.

14. Are there any deadlines I should know about?

Open enrollment for insurance plans for 2014 begins Oct. 1 and runs through March 31. If you want a health insurance policy that's in place on New Year's Day, you have to make a choice by Dec. 15. After then, you have to wait a few weeks between picking a plan and using it. Next year, you'll have less time because enrollment for 2015 health plans runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 in 2014.

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Comment by Pamela K Marshall on October 2, 2013 at 9:12am gov 18003182696
Comment by Trinimasive on October 1, 2013 at 11:04pm

Fast Food Healthcare Coverage


October 1 begins a new era of healthcare market rules. On the one hand, insurers no longer can refuse consumers for preconditions.

On the other, lots of rude awakenings await. They include bare bones plans. New health insurance exchanges (HIX) are state, federal, or jointly-provided options.

They’re marketplaces for consumers to compare and choose plans. They determine who’s eligible for federal subsidies.

They offer a confusing array of plans. They’re privately run. Many will leave consumers paying around 40% of costs out-of-pocket. They’ll do so after spending thousands of dollars on premiums.

On October 1, open enrollment begins for individuals, families and small businesses. It continues until March 31, 2014.

Coverage begins January 1. Enrolling post-3/31 is permitted only in case of job loss, birth, marriage or divorce.

Consumers earning under 400% of official poverty qualify for federally subsidized private health insurance. Privately run companies provide it.

Beginning in 2014, the IRS will enforce 47 new tax provisions. Doing so promises to be nightmarish. Giving the agency power over healthcare is scandalous. Enormous harm is likely.

Health insurance marketplace is the official term for exchanges. They’re also called HIXs, ObamaCare Exchanges, Health Benefits Exchanges, Health Care Exchanges, Health Insurance Marketplaces, and Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

States can set up their own plans. They can do it various ways. They can build their own exchange. They can partner with one or more other states.

They can operate jointly with Washington. They can let federal authorities create and run their exchange. They must be fully operational by January 1, 2014.

States creating their own exchange qualify for full federal funding. Those doing so can choose which providers can offer coverage.

The Department of Health and Human Services runs the federal exchange. In jointly-run ones, providers meeting minimum federal and state requirements can compete for customers.

Over the past generation, coverage eroded markedly. Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes underinsurance the new normal.

Potential consequences are financially and medically grave. ACA will reduced uninsured numbers from 50 to 30 million. Insurance afforded is full of holes. It’s confusing. It rips off consumers for profit.

Costs vary by state and the negotiating power of exchanges. Prescription drug coverage isn’t all inclusive. Some medications aren’t covered.

Americans deserve better. Universal single-payer coverage alone provides it. Growing millions of Americans face life or debt.

Above 400% of poverty, subsidies disappear. Premiums escalate. Deductibles and co-pays add thousands more. Growing millions can’t afford it.

ACA rations care. It’s a boon for predatory providers. It enriches insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. It does nothing to control costs. They’re spiraling out of control.

States can institute co-pays for the poorest of the poor on Medicaid. Healthcare should be a universal right. ACA denies it.

Everyone must be covered. Anyone not is penalized. Millions unable to afford employer coverage are ineligible for federal aid.

Uninsured middle-income consumers eligible for subsidized coverage may use healthcare exchanges. Safety net programs are for low income households.

ACA stipulates that coverage can’t cost more than 9.5% of family income. Recipients it considers able to buy insurance are ineligible for subsidies.

Affordability is in the eye of the beholder. Family coverage is nearly threefold higher than for individuals.

If employers don’t provide it, recipients are out of luck. They’re forced to choose from among unacceptable exchange options.

ACA scams consumers. It makes America’s dysfunctional system worse. It sacrifices healthcare for profits. It does so irresponsibly.

In March 2012, Consumer Reports (CR) provided a guide to bare bones plans. It headlined “Junk health insurance. Stingy plans may be worse than none at all.”

“It might seem to be health insurance, if you don’t look too closely,” CR said. “The premiums are surprisingly affordable.”

“And so millions of unemployed people, service industry workers, and those taken in by fast-talking telemarketers sign up.”

“They may think they’re insured – until they have a medical problem and find out that their coverage is as skimpy as a hospital gown.”

Obama, administration officials, and congressional Democrat scam artists sold ACA as consumer-friendly. It bears repeating. Its a scheme to enrich providers. It does so at the expense of human health.

It rations care. HIX holders affected by expensive illness will find out the hard way.

Some plans are called mini-meds. Employers and large insurers offer them.

Lesser known companies offer health discount cards and fixed benefit indemnity plans. They’re so inadequate, “regulators don’t consider them to be health insurance at all,” said CR.

Consumers don’t realize they’ve been had. Some of these companies “operate one step ahead of the law.”

These type plans and others like them were supposed to disappear after ACA passed.

It says healthcare plans can no longer cap essential annual or lifetime benefits.

In fall 2010, McDonald’s threatened to drop its mini-med plan. It won’t offer adequate coverage. Other low-wage employers operate the same way.

The Obama administration granted temporary waivers. They let mini-meds continue until 2014. Major ACA provisions begin phasing in on January 1. They continue doing so until 2020.

CR warned about “insurance that isn’t.” These type schemes include fixed benefit indemnity plans.

They reimburse a set amount. It’s inadequate. Medical discount cards offer what their name applies. They do so for a set monthly fee. After January 1, they may not qualify as coverage.

Unsuspecting consumers buy them. They don’t understand the risk. They don’t cover serious illness expenses. They’re worthless when people most need help.

According to American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s senior policy director Stephen Finan:

“It’s amazing how quickly these companies appear and disappear. They’re small operations that are one step ahead of the sheriff.”

More confusing are plans combining indemnity and discounts. Iowa Policy Project senior research consultant Colin Gordon said they do it “to parrot the coverage of conventional health insurance.”

Kaiser Family Foundation senior fellow Karen Pollitz advises: “Don’t buy fixed benefit plans. You’ll still be uninsured but out a bunch of money.”

CR says “avoid pitfalls when buying (health) insurance on your own.”

“Don’t shop from a search engine. If you Google ‘affordable health insurance,’ you’ll see sites that promise instant quotes.”

Avoid them. It’s impossible to know which ones are legitimate. A telemarketer will likely call. They offer “junk,” says CR.

According to Georgetown University Professor Mila Kofman:

“Few licensed health insurance companies market to consumers in this way, and even fewer sell directly to consumers.”

“Don’t respond to flyers on telephone poles, faxes, robo-calls, or late-night infomercials,” says CR.

“Look up real plans at” It’s a federal web site. It lists legitimately licensed healthcare plans. Contact them directly.

“Consult an independent broker.” According to Montana’s commissioner of securities and insurance:

They handle various reputable provider plans. They “know which products are real and which ones are scams.”

“Check with your state insurance department.” Most have web sites. They include information on state-licensed healthcare plans.

CR’s health insurance buying guide offers valuable advice.

Beginning October 1, consumers face a bewildering array of confusing/deceptive information and choices.

Navigating through them isn’t simple. According to CR:

“Which health insurance plan is right for you depends on many factors, most notably your age,  whether you are employed, and whether your employer offers you insurance or you have to buy on your own.”

Check CR’s “health insurance rankings.” Use them for help in choosing a plan that’s “right for you based on where you live, your circumstances, and the kind of coverage you think you need.”

Understanding health insurance isn’t easy. ACA made doing so more complicated.

CR explains how to choose wisely. Its most recent information is dated August 2013. It covers three important questions to ask:

(1) “What does the plan cover?” Some may exclude benefits consumers most need.

ACA allegedly resolved the problem. Whether or not it’s true remains to be seen.

Insurance sold to individuals and small business are supposed to cover:

  • emergency services
  • hospitalization
  • lab tests
  • maternity and newborn care
  • mental health
  • substance abuse treatment
  • outpatient care
  • pediatric services
  • prescription drugs
  • preventive care services
  • rehabilitation treatment.

Large company plans are supposed to offer the same benefits. Many questions remain.

Consumers will get all the healthcare they can pay for. Low income households will get skimpy government help.

(2) “How much does the plan cost?” State plans will be standardized. They’ll offer various combinations of premiums and cost-sharing.

Bronze plans are cheapest. They’ll cover 60% of member costs. Silver plans provide 70%. Gold plans offer 80%.

Platinum plans are most costly. They cover 90%. Which plan is right depends on individual age, health, financial condition and other relevant circumstances.

All plans include cost sharing. Consumers are responsible for deductibles and co-pays. How much depends on which plan is chosen.

Other cost sharing terms include coinsurance. It’s a fixed cost percentage consumers must pay out-of-pocket for treatment options.

An out-of-pocket limit refers to a maximum annual amount. Once reached, insurers must pay 100% of further costs.

Most consumers never incur enough expense to qualify. High premium plans have lower limits.

Beginning January 1, out-of-pocket limits can’t exceed $6,350 for individuals and those in small groups. For families, it’s $12,700. Some plans may offer lower amounts.

(3) “Which doctors and hospitals are in it?” All plans have their own providers. They have contractual arrangements with them.

They don’t work with others. Using them will get consumers stuck with bills perhaps they can’t afford.

On September 28, New York Times editors headlined “Dawn of a Revolution in Health Care.” Duplicitously they said:

“The United States is embarking on a truly historic journey toward near-universal health care coverage this week.”

“Starting Tuesday, the federal government will make it possible for millions of uninsured Americans who can’t get health insurance, or can’t afford it, to obtain coverage with the aid of government subsidies.”

“It is a striking example of what government can do to help people in trouble.”

Fact check

ACA is more devolution than revolution. It’s a scam. It rips off Americans to enrich providers. Millions will be left uninsured. Millions more will be underinsured.

Consumers will be stuck with huge out-pocket costs. They’ll be shocked when they learn how much.

Candidate Obama promised universal coverage. In 2007, he said “affordable, universal health care for every single American must not be a question of whether. It must be a question of how.”

“We have the ideas. We have the resources, and we must find the will to pass a plan by the end of the next president’s first term.”

ACA is polar opposite what he promised. It’s a healthcare rationing scheme. It’s based on the ability to pay. It barters human life for money.

It’s unresponsive to human need. It rips off Americans. It leaves millions high and dry.

It provides unaffordable coverage. Healthcare is a core human right. Its high cost is the leading cause of US household bankruptcies.

ACA does nothing to change things. It prioritizes profits. It ignores a fundamental human need. It shifts the cost burden irresponsibly to individuals.

It offers everyone as much coverage as they can afford. It leaves millions out of luck entirely. It’s a pay or die scheme.

It requires everyone be insured. It mandates coverage whether or not people can afford it. It imposes 1% of annual income fines for failure to comply.

It denies universal single-payer coverage. It wants Medicare and Medicaid destroyed. It wants profiteers running both programs. It wants growing numbers of Americans left on their own sink or swim.

On October 1, ACA opened for business. It’s a testament to Obama duplicity. He promised one thing. He delivered another.

He cheated millions of Americans out of what they rightfully deserve. Marketplace medicine doesn’t work.

ACA glitches appeared. On September 29, the Wall Street Journal headlined “Health Law Hits Late Snags as Rollout Approaches,” saying:

“Obama administration officials scrambling to get the health law’s insurance marketplaces ready to open on Tuesday keep hitting technical problems.”

Field workers aren’t ready to enroll consumers. Implementation will proceed anyway. It’ll do so whether or not government shuts down.

“(E)xchanges say they haven’t yet had a chance to preview the systems,” said the Journal.

They’re not properly staffed for what’s coming. They have their own technical problems.

Enrollment workers say they haven’t been briefed on what tools to use.

They haven’t had practice runs. They’re not prepared to provide help consumers need.

On ACA rollout day, snafu explains what they face. The term originated during WW II. Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22″ popularized it.

It’s military slang for “Situation normal. All f..ked up.” It means a problem with no solution. It describes ACA’s current condition.

Universal single payer advocates hope it’s terminal. Americans deserve much more than it provides.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

Comment by Trinimasive on October 1, 2013 at 10:42pm
Comment by Bruce Thorne on October 1, 2013 at 8:00pm

This is really good info because there has been a big misconception and a lot of misleading information as far as Obamacare is concerned.However not everyone is going to benefit from this you are going to win some and u are going to loose some but the bottom line is more Americans would be able to afford some form of Health Care.So it doesn't if they shut the Fed.Govt down,they did it before and they will do it again,but the show must go on, no one yahoo could stop the show.Big up TIG

Comment by Chris on October 1, 2013 at 7:03pm

OK just to let you know.. eventually the insurance premiums will sky rocket because of the ObamaCare... 

Insurance companies under obamacare HAS TO INSURE EVERYONE.. it doesnt matter if they are sick with cancer or any other sicknesses.. Although this may be great for those who are sick, insurance companies simply cannot operate like this. Although I do not like insurance companies... :) the reality is that they will end up increase premiums on everyone in order to cover the loss that they will have to take on insuring people who unfortunately, will die... 

It seems like a great thing, but in the long run obama care is going to be dangerous.

Comment by Steveon Williams on October 1, 2013 at 2:38pm
This is definitely good info... Someone needs to explain the big cut from it tho.

The Public Option
Comment by mr fix on October 1, 2013 at 2:31pm

This garbage tell the people the truth about Obama care this is only for people who are in love with the President who are oblivious to the truth. We're in  Democratic Country. So have Obama care why should we have  to give up  our insurance provider. Democratic  mean you have a choice this is not Russia. And to all of you who like playing dumb well do you know you're the one paying the cost for the old  the sick and welfare people through high premium yes if you're young you're paying the high  cost for others. If you have a small business you're going to go out of business or force to cut workers hours to avoid heavy penalties. Any country where the government is getting too big is not Democratic its call communist one health insurance mean if you don't like it or want it you have no other alternative can not be good. You're been a slave wake up. 

Comment by Joel Barros on October 1, 2013 at 1:41pm
Wrong why should I pay high premium for lazy people who chose not to work n keep having kids living on welfare. Do ur research this plan will bankrupt the country. It's about control they will have access to ur medical records trumping the hippa law. Stop being so gulable n do research there is more to it. It's what the nazi did before take over. Deceive the people with so called free gifts n confiscated their property n then concentration camp Obama is the set up man nothing more then IMF bankers n world elite running the show he is the puppy. They choose h becuz this generation can relate he is black young n charismatic.
Comment by Pat Solan on October 1, 2013 at 12:20pm

Thanks for posting this... Everyone in this country deserves equal rights.. 






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