After more than three years of discussion over the most sweeping healthcare reform in decades, the Obamacare federal health care law and the resulting health insurance will soon be a reality.
Known as the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare plan requires most Americans to get health insurance and is supposed to provide cheaper insurance options for millions by offering the low- and middle-income subsidies to buy private insurance.
While the dramatic changes in the healthcare system are far-reaching, one thing is certain: The mandated healthcare is likely to affect your pocketbook, in some cases offering you debt solutions.
Penalties for not participating
One of the most publicized aspects of Obamacare is the penalty levied on those who choose not to have insurance. The fine excludes those who would have to spend more than 8 percent of their annual income on insurance, but otherwise requires that each adult pay $95 per year and $47.50 per child or 1 percent of the family income in 2014. This jumps to $325 per adult or 2 percent of the family income by 2015, and in 2016 it's a $695 penalty per adult or 2.5 percent of the family income.
Premiums depend on your health status and age
If you've had serious health problems, like cancer or heart attacks, the plan is likely to save you money. You'll find it easier to get affordable coverage through Obamacare, as the program doesn't allow excluding less healthy patients or charging them more. Because of this decrease, healthier individuals are likely to see insurance costs rise.
Older insured individuals will also experience a decrease in rates. While it's currently common for insurance companies to charge this group five times more than younger people, this will be limited to just three times more, once again causing younger individuals to see premium increases.
Gender will affect your insurance costs
Men currently often pay less than women for insurance, because they don't go to the doctor as often. That will stop with Obamacare, which may mean a significant increase in your insurance premiums if you are a male between the ages of 25-36.
Potentially increased taxes
The tax credits offered through the Affordable Care Act in 2014 are available on a sliding scale to individuals with an income of $45,960 or less and $94,200 or under for a family of four. The eligibility is likely to change each year, so if your income goes up, you may have to pay back your overpayment on your next tax return.
The next several months as Obamacare takes effect promise to shed even more light on how the insurance plan may offer you debt help.
About the Author:
Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in personal finance and insurance. Since 1983, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times.