Health insurance remains elusive for millionsObamacare, its supposed to be a health insurance godsend for over 48 million Americans who were not eligible for insurance or who could not afford to purchase it. Now, under Obamacare, Americans will not be rejected from buying insurance due to pre-existing health conditions. The other caveat: Americans are now required to purchases insurance whether they want it or not.
According to a recent CNN report, 2.1 million have gotten private health insurance in the first three months of open enrollment. And nearly 1 million signed up for Obamacare in the first weeks of January alone, according to the administration.
But most Americans, at least through 2014, will continue to receive their health insurance benefits through their employer. In fact, three out of every five workers still have employer sponsored benefits. The remaining workers are expected to receive Medicaid or purchase new plans on the exchanges. Many are eligible for government assistance to pay for those plans.
Obamacare health insurance problems persist
Obamacare has not been without its problems. In fact, politicians continue to fight over the controversial legislation, not enough healthy individuals have signed up for policies, computer glitches remain, information is not being processed correcting, there are security concerns and more than half of Americans still don't know about the important health insurance deadlines, according to one survey.
So how long do you have to sign up for Obamacare? Open health insurance enrollment runs through March 31st, but you will need to sign up by January 30 if you want coverage by March 1, 2014. Unfortunately, if you wanted your coverage to start at the beginning of this year you would have needed to sign up last December. After the March 31st enrollment deadline the enrollment will not re-open again until October 15.
How to get started
The government advises first trying to access the exchanges online at www.healthcare.gov. If you are unable to access online you can call a call center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Enrollment can also be done by mail.
Navigators have been hired to help people navigate the system. If you would like to find a navigator, go to Localhelp.healthcare.gov. The government site lets you plug in your ZIP code, and it will give you the closest location to get help.
There will also be a variety of plans available: basic, silver, gold and platinum. Each plan offered through the exchange will have the same basic coverage, although some plans will have higher deductibles and you may have to pay a co-pay for certain services when you visit a doctor or hospital.
What if I dont purchase insurance?
If you were unable to purchase insurance that information will be listed on your 2014 tax return. You will be charged a fee the first year is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family), or 1% of your income, whatever is higher. Unfortunately, the penalty will increase each year. According to CNN, in 2015, it jumps to 2% of your income, or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child. In 2016, it will jump to 2.5% of your income.