Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

January 7, 2014

New healthcare law requires consumer education

For many Americans, the federal Affordable Care Act remains a mystery. The new Healthcare.gov website appears to be improving, yet confusion regarding enrollment deadlines and provider options is widespread. Whether or not you like the idea of federal health care, it is important to be equipped with the facts to sufficiently plan for your family’s health care needs.

Some Indiana residents may be feeling the impact as they sign up to buy health insurance through the online marketplace set up by the federal government. Enrollment began Oct. 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014. Coverage was set to begin Jan. 1, 2014..

The federal government has made repeated attempts to apologize for the online marketplace’s substantial glitches, but the facts remain: certain Indiana residents must enroll online as soon as possible to receive coverage in 2014 and avoid paying a penalty in 2015.

You may have lingering questions and wonder if enrolling in the marketplace is the right decision for your health and finances. Many legislators—myself included—have those same questions, but as your state senator and a member of the Health Finance Commission, I want you to have as much information as possible.

Who can enroll?

The marketplace is mainly designed for those who do not receive health insurance through their jobs. In an effort to provide insurance coverage to more of these Americans, the health care law provides tax credits to certain income-eligible individuals who buy insurance from the marketplace. These tax credits are related to income, so people with less income receive larger subsidies.

What are the costs?

One of the most harmful taxes in Obamacare is the requirement that all businesses with at least 50 full-time employees must offer affordable health insurance or potentially pay a fine. The text of the law exempts employees who work less than 30 hours a week, leading some employers to cut their workers’ hours to avoid the penalty. For a business with 50 employees, the amount of the fine would be $40,000, and the penalty grows for each additional employee of the business.

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