The health care law helps people with low incomes by opening up new options for getting health coverage. It does this in two ways. It permits states to expand Medicaid to many more people, and it makes financial assistance available to others with limited incomes who buy health insurance through the new exchanges.
- Medicaid is the joint state and federal government program that pays the health care costs for many people with limited incomes. Before the health care law, millions of uninsured 50- to 64-year-old Americans, as well as many younger people, were not eligible for Medicaid, no matter how low their incomes.
- Your state has the option in 2014 to make Medicaid available to more people. Your state can also decide not to make this change. If your state does make this change, Medicaid will pay most of your health care costs if you are under the age of 65, do not have Medicare, and are single and earn less than about $15,500, or are part of a couple that earns less than about $21,000. These figures, based on the 2012 federal poverty level, are subject to change.
Helps pay for insurance
- If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to get tax credits to help you pay for the health insurance you get through the exchange. The amount of credit depends on your income.
- Exchanges are new marketplaces where you will be able to shop for health insurance. You’ll be able to compare the benefits and costs of health plans side-by-side.
- You can get information about the costs when the exchange begins enrollment in every state in late 2013. Coverage starts in 2014.
- Anyone can buy health insurance in an exchange. For example, if you need insurance because your employer doesn’t make it available, you are self-employed or not working, you have been denied coverage, or have not been able to afford insurance, you can shop in the exchange in your state.
Helps right now
- If you have been uninsured for at least six months and have been denied health coverage because of health problems, you may be able to get coverage now. This coverage – called the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan – is already available in your state. This program continues until the exchanges start in 2014, when you will be able to get insurance through the exchange regardless of your health status.