January 1, 2014 marks the implementation of many aspects of the Affordable Healthcare Act, dubbed “Obamacare.” The details of the act that mandates health care for every resident are numerous, but many can be broken down into simpler terms.
For instance, the act raised the age limit young adults can stay under their parents’ insurance, which was previously nineteen. Adults up to twenty-six can remain on their parents’ plan, regardless of financial independence.
For the rest of adults, a Health Insurance Marketplace opened on October 1 where private insurance plans can be bought. Those who already have health insurance won’t be affected unless they choose to look for other coverage, and Medicare isn’t included. The Marketplace closes on March 31, 2014, and if coverage hasn’t been purchased, an increasing yearly fee will be imposed. In 2014, the fee is either $95 per adult and $47.50 for every child or 1 percent of one’s income, whichever is most expensive. This will raise by 2016 to $695 an adult or 2.5 percent of income, and raise every year after that according to cost of living adjustments.
After the open enrollment closes in March, people will be unable to purchase health insurance until the next enrollment period, unless they experience a “qualifying life event”, which, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, includes changes to income or family size, or relocating to a different state.
Aspects of the act that are highly publicized are coverage for preventative care for adults and pre-existing conditions for children, both of which are said to be covered by many insurance plans. Preventative services such as tests for blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and routine vaccinations may be provided at no cost. Other services include regular newborn and child visits, as well as counseling throughout pregnancies, mental health and substance use, and rehabilitative services. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these preventative benefits apply only toward “people enrolled in job-related health plans or individual health insurance policies created after March 23, 2010.” Medicare is said to be expanding to provide similar preventative services.
Changes coming in January that directly affect college students include being able to remain under a parent’s’ insurance plan until the age of 26. More than three million people have reportedly gained coverage as a result of the age expansion. In the Health Insurance Marketplace, competitively priced health plans are said to include multiple options to best suit household size, income and lifestyle, and will not majorly affect college-issued student insurance. However, for changes or details, students should read more at HealthCare.gov.