Welcome GP! We will get to your question shortly.
Yes, most insurers will be offering high-deductible health insurance plans on the exchanges, which can qualify you to open a health savings account if the deductible is at least $1,250 for single coverage and $2,500 for family coverage (the 2013 figures; will probably rise slightly for inflation for 2014). This can be a great way to stretch your health-care dollars -- the money you contribute to the HSA is tax-deductible and can be used tax-free for medical expenses in any year.
Rebecca, you'll see the amount of the tax credit that you're eligible for after you submit your application for coverage on the exchange. You can take the tax credit in a couple of different ways. One way is to take an advance credit, which goes directly to the insurer each month and reduces the premium you pay.
Rebecca, you can also choose to pay all the premiums out of pocket and then file for the tax credit on your 2014 return.
When you buy health insurance through the exchanges, the subsidy can be automatically applied to the cost of your coverage, if you qualify based on your income. Then the numbers will be reconciled when you file your taxes for 2014 the following spring -- if, for example, your income ended up being higher by the end of the year than your estimate, you may have to pay back some of the subsidy when you file your taxes.
GP, thanks for your question. Depending on your state, your mother may qualify for Medicaid if she has no or very low income, or she could qualify for a subsidy if her income is from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level. It will be a good idea to do some research in her state to find out what assistance she may qualify for on her own and what the tax implications would be. Healthcare.gov can direct you to more information about your state's exchange.
Tine, self-employed people with no employees are treated as individuals on the exchanges -- so they would generally shop for coverage on the individual marketplace rather than the "SHOP" exchange for small businesses.
Craig, if your policy was active before Mar. 23, 2010, it may be "grandfathered," meaning you can keep your current coverage. It's important to read any notices you get from your insurer. If the plan isn't grandfathered, insurers will be notifying policyholders of the process for transitioning to new plans.
Craig, also, if you are looking at other plans but don't qualify for a subsidy, it can be worthwhile to look at the policies offered on the exchanges as well as policies offered off the exchanges (in many states). You can only get a subsidy if you buy on the exchanges, but some insurers are also going to be selling policies off the exchanges. These policies need to meet most of the same requirements, but have slightly different rules about networks and other issues. In most states, you can buy those policies directly from the insurance company or through an agent.
A follow-up from Barbara, too:
Hi, Lisa! Your question is on deck.
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans must cover certain categories of drugs, but the specifics can vary by company -- both in terms of what is and isn't covered on the formulary, and the pricing tier for the drugs (which determines the level of co-payment or coinsurance you'd have to pay). During open enrollment for Part D plans this fall -- which will continue to be Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 as it had been in the past -- it will be important for you to look at all of your Part D options available in your area. This is easy to do by using the Medicare.gov Plan Finder (www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan). Type in your zip code and your drugs and dosages, and you'll see the premiums plus out-of-pocket costs for all of the plans in your area. If you find another plan that covers your drugs much better than your current plan does, then you can switch during open-enrollment season and have the new plan start on January 1. The Plan Finder currently has 2013 plans available, but the new information for 2014 plans should be up around Oct. 1.
The health-care law doesn't apply to Tricare -- that is a separate law -- so it doesn't directly affect the eligibility or benefits under the military program.
Lisa, if you're enrolled in Tricare, you're considered covered under the new health care law, and you don't need to make any changes.
Here's a follow-up from Rebecca:
Rebecca, unfortunately no -- plans purchased on the exchange starting Oct. 1 won't take effect until Jan. 1.
Rebecca, here's some more information on finding coverage that starts before Jan. 1:
So, Kim and Eleanor, does that mean the new ACA won't have any impact on premiums and deductibles for Tricare users?
Here's one from Steve, too:
Sorry to take so long Steve, we just want to make sure we get you the most thorough response possible!
Tricare is a separate law, so the ACA doesn't make any changes to its premiums and deductibles. In fact, the rule allowing adult children to stay on their parents' plans (which was one of the first big changes from the ACA) had to be be approved separately for Tricare.
Steve, yes, you can drop COBRA and buy a policy on the exchange, which may be a much better deal (especially if your daughter does qualify for a subsidy). A lot of people have kept COBRA coverage if they had health issues that made it difficult to get their own coverage, but now that policies will not be able to reject people or charge more because of their health, it's a good idea for anyone on COBRA to go to their state exchange and compare the costs for buying the coverage on their own. Also, policies on the exchanges are eligible for subsidies, but COBRA is not, which can make a big difference.
It looks like that's all we have time for today. Thank you so much to Kim and Eleanor for being on hand to answer questions today.
Thanks everyone for your questions!
Thanks, everyone, for your great questions! It gives us a lot of good ideas for follow-up columns and articles!