The New Insurance Regulations: How Insurance Will Change in 2014
We’ve already seen some of the changes put into place with President Obama’s new health care law. If you’re a new graduate, for example, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. Insurers are no longer allowed to exempt coverage for pre-existing conditions—for children. However, the biggest changes will come in 2014, when the rest of the law goes into effect. As a college student or new graduate, here are some of the changes you can expect to see.
Your employer is more likely to provide you with health care
It’s not uncommon for new graduates to land jobs that don’t offer health care—leaving them to struggle to find it on their own. After 2014, most employers will face federal fines if they don’t provide their employees with at least basic coverage. So it’s more likely you’ll get health insurance through your job.
More protections for insureds
Starting in 2014, some of the more egregiously nefarious practices of health insurers will be rendered illegal. For example, after 2014, health insurers will not be allowed to refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions or cancel a person’s policy once they fall ill—for any reason except in cases of clearly documented intentional fraud.
Getting health insurance is never easy if it’s not provided by your job, your parents, or your school.
Many colleges currently offer only bare-bones health insurance policies to keep costs down. After 2014, however, all health insurance policies must meet minimum coverage standards. This may improve the coverage you get from your school—but it also could make those policies more expensive.
It may be more difficult to get “emergency” coverage
Many students and recent graduates buy “catastrophic” coverage as a stopgap measure while they wait for a better option to come along through a new employer or other changed circumstances. Catastrophic coverage plans are often drastically cheaper than normal health insurance, and they cover only the costs of serious health issues such as car crash injuries. They typically don’t cover preventive care or ongoing health expenses. After 2014, when all plans must meet a certain standard, these plans may be more difficult to get.
You’ll be able to buy insurance on an exchange
In 2014, each state will implement an insurance exchange that is supposed to provide a consumer-friendly place for people to shop for coverage. If you don’t get coverage through your parents or a job, you may have to use the insurance exchange to find individual coverage.
The government has promised to help people pay for their health insurance. If you make less than a certain threshold—which varies dramatically based on your circumstances and where you live, but rises to approximately $88,200 for a family of four—you will be eligible for premium subsidies. In addition, the amount you pay for premiums will be limited to a certain percentage of your income, ranging from 3% to 9.5%.
You’ll face financial penalties if you don’t have health insurance
A key part of the new health care law is the individual mandate—requiring everyone to buy health insurance. The first year, those who are still uninsured will owe $95 or 1% of income—whichever is greater, as long as the penalty doesn’t go over the cost of available health insurance. As the years progress, however, that penalty will rise until the uninsured will owe as much as $695 or 2% of income. Those who make less than the federal income tax filing threshold or who cannot find a plan that costs less than 8% of their income will be exempt from the penalty.
Getting health insurance is never easy if it’s not provided by your job, your parents, or your school. Hopefully, the new laws will make things easier—and less expensive—for students and new graduates.
New York Times: For Consumers, Clarity on Health Care Changes
American Psychological Association: Will Student Health Plans Survive in Their Current Form—and Should They?
ABC News: Health Care Bill: What Does it Mean For You?
CisternYard: Health Care Law Affects Students
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