The Healthcare changes coming for 2014….

A snap-shot of the changes coming up for the Affordable Healthcare Act….

Coverage begins on Jan. 1 for people who selected plans through new federal and state exchanges before the Dec. 24 deadline. Others have until March 31 to sign up. Many Americans can receive federal subsidies to help pay for insurance. Several million low-income people also qualified for Medicaid, which 26 states are expanding under the health law that President Barack Obama signed nearly four years ago.

Pre-existing condition coverage

In 2014, health insurers no longer will be able to shut out people with pre-existing conditions or jack up their premiums. Annual and lifetime benefit limits are also prohibited.

The individual mandate

To help offset the cost of adding millions of older, sicker people to the insurance rolls, Obamacare requires that most Americans — including young, healthy ones — obtain coverage or pay a fine. Numerous groups are exempted, from undocumented immigrants to Native Americans to members of certain religious sects. And a broader “hardship” exemption is available to people deemed unable to afford any available insurance options or dealing with other life challenges, from foreclosure to domestic violence to unemployment. The White House recently gave people whose health plans were canceled the option of having a hardship exemption, essentially waiving the mandate in their case for one year.

Those who are subject to the mandate could be fined if they lack coverage for more than three months in a single calendar year. The penalty is relatively light in 2014, topping out at either $95 or 1 percent of an uninsured person’s income, whichever is greater. It’ll be deducted when those individuals file taxes in 2015, so its impact won’t be felt for a while.


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