Healthcare Reform, Obamacare, does three major things for you if you're uninsured or buy your own health insurance because you don't get it from an employer.
First, it changes what types of health insurance products you can by. Second, it changes how you buy those products. And third, it changes when you can buy those products.
How does Obamacare change what you buy? If the plan you have today or buy in 2013 does not meet new government standards, you may have to purchase new insurance to avoid tax penalties. With Obamacare any new plan you buy in 2014 will cover a minimum of 10 standard essential benefits. Things like maternity care and prescription drug coverage are standard.
And Obamacare creates a minimum benefit level for every plan. So in 2014 a new metallic rating system will make it easier to tell what level of coverage you're buying. All metallic plans must cover at least 60% of total average estimated costs for the plan's benefit package.
Bronze plans cover 60%, while platinum plans cover 90%. Catastrophic plans for people under the age of 30 may have lower benefit levels.
How does Obamacare change how you buy health insurance? With Obamacare your medical history can't be used to decline your application or charge you more for your health insurance. No more complicated questions about your medical history while you wait, sometimes weeks, to see if your application was approved.
You may be able to get help from the government to pay for your plan in the form of premium tax credits or subsidies. And new state exchanges or market places like E-health insurance will open up to provide additional places for people to shop for coverage.
How does Obamacare change when you can buy health insurance? In most states there will be one open enrollment period per year when people who want health insurance are guaranteed to have their application approved. It may hard to get approved for coverage outside of the open enrollment period if you don't have a qualifying event such as the loss of a job, the birth of a child, a marriage or move to a new coverage area.
If you miss open enrollment and go uninsured for more than three months in a row, Obamacare can impose a tax penalty on you starting in 2014.