Insurance expert explains health care changes

Understanding the Affordable Health Care Act

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The Affordable Health Care Act is being called the most historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system since Medicare and Medicaid. Understanding it right now, could help you make better decisions in the future.

New health care rules are still months away, but insurance expert Wendell Potter warns, right now, "It's very important to find out what your obligations are going to be."

Starting next year, you must have health insurance. Those who don't face a penalty of $95 per taxpayer or one-percent of their annual income, whichever is greater. That means, a family making $50,000 a year will pay $500 in fines.

In 2016, those fines increase to $695 per taxpayer or two-point-five percent of family income. The penalty is calculated on a month-to-month basis so; it's a good idea to start comparing insurance plans now.

"We need to make sure we're looking and paying attention to what is covered and what's not. What our out of pocket expenses are going to be," said Potter.

Starting in October, people in need of insurance can shop for plans that will take effect on January first 2014 through "Exchanges." Basically one-stop shops for your insurance needs, but no matter where you purchase.

"People need to understand that they are more than likely going to have to pay more out of pocket than they might expect," Potter added.

That's because insurance premiums are expected to go up ten to 13-percent, but preventative services like breast cancer and cholesterol screenings, as well as routine immunizations like flu shots will be covered without any out of pocket costs.

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, but premiums can vary based on age, where you live, family size, and tobacco use.

If you smoke cigarettes, get ready to fork over a lot more cash for health coverage. Smokers may have to pay up to 50-percent more for premiums than non-smokers.

Additional Information:

THE AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE ACT: This Act puts individuals, families, and small business owners in control of their healthcare. It reduces premium costs for millions of working families and small businesses by providing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax relief. The Affordable Healthcare Act is the largest middle class tax cut for healthcare in history. It was passed by Congress and then signed into law by the President on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court rendered a final decision to uphold the healthcare law.  (Source:  


TITLE IV: This title of the Act will promote prevention, wellness, and the public health; it provides an unprecedented funding commitment to these areas.  It directs the creation of a national prevention and health promotion strategy that incorporates the most effective and achievable methods to improve the health status of Americans and reduce the incidence of preventable illness and disability in the United States. (Source:

THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Tax credits to help the middle class afford insurance will become available for those with income between 100% and 400% of the poverty line who are not eligible for other affordable coverage. The tax credit is advanceable, so it can lower your premium payments each month, rather than making you wait for tax time. It's also refundable, so even moderate income families can receive the full benefit of the credit. (Source:

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