How Does Your Brain Score? Take the Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment



Health Care Reform Explained

The New Health Care Law and Affordable Insurance

Your questions answered

Q. My husband and I are in our late 50s and have a health insurance policy with a very high deductible that only covers catastrophic care. We pay high premiums and have no preventive-care coverage. Will the new law help us afford better health insurance? We are living on the edge—any more bills and we fall off.

A. The new law will lower the monthly cost of insurance in 2014 by providing tax credits or refunds to reduce the cost of your premiums. The credits are available to people whose income is in a certain range and who are eligible to buy coverage through the new state-run health insurance exchanges. You can buy basic comprehensive coverage through an exchange if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance is unaffordable. (How the exchanges work will be explained in an upcoming answer.)

Because it’s too early to know what the insurance premiums will be in 2014, we don’t know how much the credits are worth in dollars. We do know that the credits will be a percentage of your income, from 2 to 9.5 percent, if your income is under a certain level—the current range would include individuals with incomes of $14,403 to $43,320 and families of four with incomes of $29,326 to $88,200.

In addition, new consumer protections will take effect in September that can also help make coverage more affordable. For people who buy new group and individual policies, insurers cannot set lifetime limits on how much they will pay, cannot cancel policies after you get sick, and cannot exclude children with preexisting medical problems. And certain preventive screenings and vaccinations will be provided at a price that can’t be beat: free.

Susan Jaffe of Washington, D.C., covers health and aging issues and writes the Bulletin’s weekly column, Health Care Reform Explained: Your Questions Answered.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points