Love it or loathe it, the Affordable Care Act has many Americans scratching their heads and asking, “What will it mean for me?” About two-thirds of the uninsured polled said they don’t understand how the health care reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, will impact them, says the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is something they’ll need to figure out, and fairly quickly: Uninsured Americans will be required to obtain health insurance as of Jan. 1, 2014, or face penalties. The penalty in 2014 will be $95 per person or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher, and will increase to $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016. If you have questions about how Obamacare might affect you, TurboTax has a community dedicated to the Affordable Care Act. You can get your questions answered here. But don’t let your blood pressure spike. Here are some quick facts to help you understand what’s going on: 1. Will I be affected? Anyone who doesn’t have access to affordable health insurance through their job or through a government program like Medicare or Medicaid can apply to buy health insurance through the insurance marketplace or exchange in their state, beginning on Oct. 1. That includes: Those who don’t have insurance. Last year, nearly 34 million Americans had been without insurance for at least a year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The 15 million Americans who currently buy insurance on their own and not through a work-based plan. Workers whose work-based insurance is not affordable, meaning their share of the cost for their coverage (not family coverage) exceeds 9.5 percent of their income. People will still be able to buy individual policies without going through an exchange — for instance, directly from an insurance company or an insurance broker. 2. What if I’ve been turned down before? Under Obamacare, no one can be denied insurance or charged a higher rate because they have a pre-existing condition. That will help the estimated 12.6 million Americans who can’t currently get coverage because of their medical history. 3. What kind of coverage can I get? The exchanges will offer four levels of coverage: Platinum, which will have the highest cost and lowest out-of-pocket expenses. Gold Silver Bronze, which will offer the least expensive monthly premium but highest potential out-of-pocket costs. All plans are required to provide a new minimum standard of service, which is higher than some plans provide today. CNNMoney explains: “Starting next year, nearly all individual plans — both in and out of the exchanges — will be required to cover an array of “essential” services, including medication, maternity and mental health care. Many plans don’t currently offer those benefits.” 4....
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