Post Classifieds

The Facts about the Affordable Care Act

By Melissa Hall
On October 16, 2013

Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into full effect. The ACA, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, requires that all Americans have health insurance.

Beginning October 1, the United States government (as well as some state governments) launched health insurance marketplace exchange websites, where consumers can shop for insurance plans that fit their needs. Open enrollment for 2014 runs from October 1 to March 31, 2014. According to, an educational website set up by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, individuals must enroll by December 15 for coverage starting on January 1, 2014.

While many employers provide employees with health insurance, there are still many people who have not had access to affordable health insurance in the United States. The ACA was signed into law with the intention of providing those citizens with affordable access to health care insurance.

According to Michael Deering, Media and Public Relations Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the ACA will provide several benefits to individuals in need of insurance who may not have had access to affordable health care in the past.

"Individuals will be assured of getting health coverage, regardless of health status," said Deering. "This means that all Americans have access to coverage, including those with pre-existing conditions. Adult dependent children can remain on a parent's policy until age 26, regardless of student, marital or residency status. Your policy cannot be canceled, except in cases of fraud or intentional abuse of coverage."

Additionally, the ACA requires all insurers to provide coverage for basic health concerns. This requirement extends to all insurance plans, including those offered by employers.

According to Deering, "New policies and plans must comply with the ten essential health benefitsmandated in ACA. Those 10 are hospitalization, emergency services, laboratory services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, rehab and devices, prevention and wellness services, ambulatory care, (and) pediatric care that includes oral and vision care."

One of the highly criticized features of the law are the tax penalties that will be applied to those who don't comply with the law. According to Deering, individuals who do not have health insurance in 2014 will have to pay a penalty of either $95 or 1 percent of their income (whichever amount is higher) on their federal income tax. This penalty increases each year. By 2016, those who do not comply with the law can expect to pay the higher amount of either $695 or 2.5 percent of their income.

In addition to paying a penalty, those who do not comply with the law will miss out on the benefits of having health insurance. According to Deering, the benefits of having health insurance go far beyond avoiding any tax penalties.

"Some people view the individual mandate as negative and the penalty for not getting coverage as a negative," said Deering. "But, the real penalty for not having coverage is getting a serious illness or injury and being financially ruined by hospital and doctor medical bills. Those bills do not go away, and hospitals typically may employ collection agencies or place liens on your property in order to collect."

Another key feature of the law is that the government is offering tax credits and subsidies to help lower and middle class families pay for health insurance. Those whose household incomes are less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for financial assistance.

Applicants can find out which subsidies they quality for when they apply for insurance coverage through the insurance marketplace. Deering also said that consumers who purchase insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois' website,, are also screened for eligibility in receiving government subsidies.

The marketplace websites feature four levels of insurance plans for consumers to choose from: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Illinois residents can purchase insurance though the state's health insurance exchange website, Indiana residents can purchase insurance through the federal government's online marketplace,, as the state of Indiana does not operate its own health insurance exchange website.

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Recent The Phoenix News Articles

Discuss This Article




Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format