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Understanding the Tangled Web of the Affordable Care Act

Updated on November 18, 2014

If you are confused about if you must or do not need to enroll in the US Affordable Care Act, follow these guidelines.

If you have health insurance through your employer, the answer No about enrolling. You are exempt. If you lose the job and healthcare, OR, do not have health insurance and do not sign up, then, your penalty is $95 in 2014 or 1% of your taxable income. In 2015, the penalty zooms to $325 or 2%. If you have VERY low income, you can file for an exemption. If you have medicare, you have health insurance and can make changes to drug and Medcare Advantage plans at certain times. You do this using the medicare (dot) gov website, NOT the Healthcare (dot) gov website. If you have Medicaid, see your local office for coverage and plans.

Now, if you have insurance and decide to buy your own, was this done before the health care law went into effect? If Yes and is being cancelled, you will have to sign up for a new plan with your insurer or go to healthcare website or your state health program. If the plan is not getting cancelled, for tax credits or get a new plan, visit a state health program or the national healthcare website. If your plan went into effect after the Act was passed and bought online, your plan will probably renew automatically but check online.

To qualify for Medicaid, a single person's income must be less than $16,105 a year, for a family of four, it is $33,913. These figures apply only to the following states: CA,NV,AZ,NM,CO,WA,OR, and many others. Check with your own state.

The following states have their own health exchange to buy health insurance: CA,CO,ID,WA,MINN,WV,NY,MASS,CONN, DC. If you live in one of these states, simply buy health insurance from the state health exchange or call 1-800-318-2596. If your income is within the Medicare limits, you will qualify for tax credits to offset healthcare plan costs and vary depending on the situation.

If you live in a different state than listed that have their own exchange, must go to the Federal health exchange to buy your plan using the web address and phone number. If your income qualifies for you for Medicaid, you can get a tax credit to offset costs.

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