The Affordable Care Act

Nov 18, 2015

After at least 50 attempts to repeal all or part of the Act and two Supreme Court decisions upholding the Act, the time has arrived for the third open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

The political debate over the ACA was so divisive; many Americans didn’t really understand how it applied to them. Here are three quick things you should know:

First, one of the primary tenants of the Affordable Care Act is that all Americans can have access to quality health insurance, regardless of their employment status or preexisting conditions. Most Americans are required to have health insurance now and will pay a penalty when they pay their taxes if they are not insured. The penalty is based on income and family size.

Second, the open enrollment period for the insurance marketplace is November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. People who get insurance through the marketplace include individuals or families who are buying insurance on their own or do not have access to affordable coverage through their jobs. If you have a life change, like needing to add a new family member to your plan, special enrollment periods are available.

Finally, the Supreme Court’s decision in the summer of 2015 upheld that people who cannot afford to buy health insurance are eligible for subsidies to help them pay for it.

If all this still seems a bit confusing, there are healthcare navigators and certified application counselors who provide free help to consumers enrolling in the health insurance marketplace.

Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is the Director of Health Communication at Southeast Missouri State University.