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The Affordable Care Act And You

Ruby de Luna

Now that the legal uncertainty behind the Affordable Care Act has been resolved, many states like Washington are moving forward with the law. KUOW's Ruby de Luna explains what's ahead and what consumers can expect.


[Ed. Note: If you have a question about how the affordable care act might affect you, email "KUOW News". We'll try to get to them and have answers next week.]

If you have health insurance through your employer, you're not going to see much change. But by 2014, people are expected to have health insurance, either through their employers or by purchasing insurance themselves. The law says employers with at least 50 full–time staff are required to provide health insurance.

Marquis: "If they don't, there will be a penalty in the form of a tax."

Stephanie Marquis is spokesperson for the Washington Office of Insurance Commissioner. She says if your business has fewer than 25 employees, you're not required to provide health insurance.

Marquis: "You're off the hook, and if you do provide coverage, you actually get a benefit: some help from the federal government in paying for those health care premiums."

That help from the federal government will come in the form of tax credits.

Also by 2014, you'll be required to indicate in your tax returns whether you have health insurance. If you don't have health coverage, you guessed it — a federal penalty kicks in.

Marquis says individuals or small businesses can shop for and compare prices for health insurance through the state.

Marquis: "And depending on what your income is, you could actually qualify for subsidies. The subsidies are available for people making between approximately $14,000 and $43,000. That's based on the federal poverty level which changes every year."

Marquis says the state plans to have health plan options available by next fall.

Some features of the Affordable Care Act are already in place. For example, the law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to kids with pre–existing conditions. Also, young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents' health plan. And the law makes it illegal for insurance companies to put a lifetime limit on health benefits.

I'm Ruby de Luna, KUOW News.

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