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How affordable will the Affordable Care Act be?

The Affordable Care Act, which took affect in 2014, can potentially entail higher premiums; but it also offers offsetting savings as well. All health policies will have to cover 10 essential benefits, such as prescription drugs and rehabilitative care. More robust coverage typically entails higher costs. Thus, typical premiums for individual and small-group plans may indeed rise. However, tax credits, subsidized plans and reduced premiums may make yearly healthcare costs approximately equal or even lower for those that meet income criteria.

The new law provides for the Health Premium Tax Credit. Generally, you will qualify for this credit if your employer does not offer health coverage, you don’t currently receive Medicare and your annual household income is less than (For 2017):

Family of 1 -- $47,520.
Family of 2 -- $64,080.
Family of 3 -- $80,640.
Family of 4 -- $97,200.

Tax credits will be paid directly to insurance companies. This method is a benefit to both families and providers, speeding payment and saving families cash-flow problems while waiting for year-end refunds.

In addition to federal tax savings, Washington is one of 26 states expanding eligibility to both Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid will be available to legal residents aged 19 to 65 whose income is less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level. CHIP will expand coverage eligibility to dependents generally according to the same income guidelines.

Those who don’t meet federal and state criteria for tax credits or subsidized coverage may still qualify for reduced premiums and co-pays from providers. Health Insurance Exchange is your central source to find the coverage you and your family need at the lowest costs available. You can search through plans from multiple insurance companies according to both price and benefits.

For more information on the coming changes in health insurance and how they may affect your coverage, call Washington Health Insurance Exchange at 360-705-0450.

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