Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform is also called the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It is a law that was designed to get more Americans health insurance coverage. No matter your income, job status or your health condition, you can now get health insurance. The law requires a standard package of medical benefits for everyone.

When is Open Enrollment?

The Open Enrollment period for 2017 coverage began Nov. 1, 2016 and ended Jan. 31, 2017. If you didn't enroll in coverage by Jan. 31, you generally can't buy health coverage for 2017 until the next open enrollment period for coverage the following year. However, if you have a Qualifying Life Event, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. 

If you're enrolled in a 2017 plan, your benefit year ends Dec. 31, 2017. To continue health coverage in 2018, you can renew your current health plan or choose a new plan during the 2018 Open Enrollment period. 

What will my insurance cover?

Standard medical benefits for all plans include:

  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitation and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
How much will it cost?

Your insurance cost will vary depending on:

  • Where you live
  • How old you are
  • Whether or not you smoke
  • How many people are in your household

Want to know how much it will cost? Find out here.

Under the law, pre-existing conditions and your gender are not factors in determining how much you will pay for health insurance.

What happens if I don't buy insurance?

Under the law, individuals and families will pay a penalty if they decide not to buy health coverage. If you are required to purchase health insurance and did not do so by Jan. 31, 2017, you will pay a penalty on your 2017 tax return (filed in 2018). 

For 2017, the penalty is $695 per adult and will be capped at $2,085 per family or 2.5 percent of income. Each year, the penalty increases. There is no penalty for a gap in coverage of less than three months.

You won’t have to pay a penalty if you are:

  • Part of a religion with objections to insurance
  • Part of a federally recognized Indian tribe
  • An undocumented immigrant
  • In jail
  • Insured with:
    • Medicare
    • Medicaid
    • Veterans’ health program
    • A plan you receive from your employer that meets certain requirements