Healthcare penalty deadline approaches

Under the Patient Protection Act and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare”, penalties for not having enrolled in an insurance policy go into effect as of  March 31, 2014, with fees falling into one of two categories defaulting to whichever is higher. 57 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 did not know the correct deadline according to a survey issued on Jan. 27, 2014 by Bankrate.

Mark Routon, Administrative Support to ASG President, has been working to educate the campus on the ACA. Routon perceives the ACA as doing “two major things.” “It mandates that every American citizen and permanent resident must have health insurance, or risk a financial penalty” and “reforms insurance policies.”

According to the healthcare.gov website, the first penalty is 1 percent of an individual’s yearly household income with a maximum penalty of the “national average yearly premium for a bronze plan.” The second penalty option is $95 per person and $47.50 per child with a maximum penalty of $285. No penalty will be issued for those uninsured for under three months. Should an individual be uninsured for more than three months but less than a year, a prorated penalty will be issued. Penalties will become more severe as time continues. “In 2015 it’s 2 percent of income or $325 per person. In 2016 and later years it’s 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person. After that it is adjusted for inflation.”

In an effort to increase accessibility and affordability, federal and state exchanges have been implemented as of October 2013 so that individuals can comparison shop. “If you make 180 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Line, you are eligible for Medicaid and up to 400 percent qualifies you for federal subsidies,” said Routon.

Insurance companies will be prohibited from rejecting coverage based on preexisting conditions. Additionally, young adults under the age of 26 can remain under their parent’s coverage. Lifetime caps on how much an insurance company will pay are also to be revoked.  “It also establishes 10 minimum requirements for what an insurance policy must cover,” said Routon

“For those who signed up in the fall, their coverage began Jan. 1. … For those who will not have purchased insurance, enrollment is not slated to open again until November 2014. There are special enrollment periods, but people must meet certain qualifications in the form of a major life event, [such as] marriage, divorce, birth [or the] loss of [a] job,” said Brandon Lueken, program coordinator and ASG adviser.

“On Feb. 19, 2014 the Associated Student Government hosted a person from King County Public Health who presented essential information about the ACA as well as help[ed] students sign up for the ACA,” said Komalpreet Kaur Sahota, ASG chief justice. “Attendance was low, but we are loo[k]ing to bring her back and attract more students,” said Routon. Faculty and staff were also educated by members of King County Health over the summer “in order to better educate students about the Affordable Care Act,” said Lueken.

To sign up, visit Washington’s state exchange at Wahealthplanfinder.org. For assistance or more information, contact King County Health directly or visit their coverage website at http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/personal/coverage.aspx.

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