The new federal health care law, called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into effect in 2010. It’s commonly referred to as health care reform. It will bring many changes, especially for people who don't have health insurance now.
What’s changing?The new law will take effect in phases with the largest changes coming in 2014. Changes coming soon include:
Most people must have health insurance
Starting in 2014, most people will have to have health insurance due to the "individual shared responsibility requirement." If you don't have coverage, you could be required to pay a penalty on your federal income tax. In 2014, the penalty for not having coverage is the higher of two amounts: $95 or 1 percent of your income.
Beginning in 2014, health plans must offer coverage to all individuals regardless of health status. This means you cannot be turned down or be made to pay more for health insurance because you're sick or have a preexisting health condition. Most plans must also cover essential health benefits which includes coverage for services like preventive care that help keep you healthy.
Help paying for coverage
Based on your income, you may be able to get help from the government to pay for your health plan and your cost sharing in the form of a subsidy. See if you can get help.
Learn more using these trusted resourcesHealth care reform is complex and evolving. Some parts of the law are still being developed on both federal and state levels. Use these interactive resources to learn more:
A tool developed as a free public service by a coalition of Minnesota organizations, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
A tool from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association that helps you understand changes happening to health care.
The Affordable Care Act affects most Minnesotans:
You can buy a health plan directly from a health plan company like Blue Cross, or you can buy a plan through an online health insurance marketplace. Minnesota's health insurance marketplace is called MNsure.
When to buy a plan
Here are a few key dates to know about when to buy a plan:
Help paying for your plan
Based on your income, you might be able to get help from the government to pay for your health plan and cost-sharing in the form of a tax credit called a subsidy. See if you can get help.
What happens if I don't have a health plan in 2014?
You could be required to pay a penalty on your federal income tax. In 2014, the penalty is the higher of two amounts: $95 or 1 percent of your income.
You probably won't need to do anything. Most companies will continue to offer health insurance to their employees. However, you should check with your employer to find out for sure.
If you buy insurance on your own
If you are happy with your current health plan, you do not have to do anything. However, you may have new plans to choose from beginning October 1, 2013, with coverage effective on or after January 1, 2014. You will get a notice from your health plan company telling you about any changes to your current plan and if there are other plan options available to you.
Based on your income, you may be able to get help from the government to pay for part of your health plan and cost-sharing in the form of a tax credit called a subsidy. See if you can get help.
To learn more about Medicare, contact Medicare at 1-800-Medicare (800-633-4227) TTY 877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or visit medicare.gov.
Please be aware that if you buy any other type of health insurance, you may no longer be able to get Medicaid. For more information, call Medicaid at 1-866-762-2237.
If you don’t already have a health plan, here are some ways to get help buying a plan.
Call your agent or Blue Cross for help
You can buy a health plan from Blue Cross. We offer lots of affordable coverage options that meet all the requirements of the new law. We can also help you see if you can get help paying for your plan.
To talk about your options, you can:
Visit MNsure health insurance marketplace
A health insurance marketplace is a new online website operated by your state and/or federal government to help you compare plans from different insurance companies. The Minnesota health insurance marketplace is MNsure.org. You can find plans from Blue Cross on MNsure.