In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. The goal of the ACA was to give all Americans access to affordable health insurance. Americans now have a number of options for obtaining affordable health insurance.

How does the ACA help people obtain affordable health insurance?

The ACA imposed regulations on insurance companies that prevent the insurance companies from denying affordable health insurance to some patients with preexisting conditions. The ACA also expanded Medicaid in some states to expand the options for poor people to obtain affordable health insurance. Employers are required to provide affordable health insurance to their full time employees if they have 50 or more full time employees. Small business owners are given tax benefits in some cases for providing affordable health insurance to their full time employees. Health insurance marketplaces were opened up to give people a place to shop around for affordable health insurance.

What if someone chooses not to obtain affordable health insurance?

In order to make providing health insurance to individuals with preexisting conditions more affordable, the ACA mandated that everyone was required to seek at least minimum affordable health insurance coverage. This would draw more people in to the insurance companies to offset the cost of setting prices so individuals with preexisting conditions can get affordable health insurance. Those who do not get affordable health insurance are required to pay a penalty with their taxes that usually amounts to more than insurance would have cost in the first place.

You may be exempt from the penalty for lack of affordable health insurance if:

  • You do not make enough income to be required to file taxes
  • You are between the ages of 26 and 30 and have replaced coverage by your parents’ health insurance with catastrophe insurance normally below the minimum coverage of affordable health insurance
  • Your income is low enough that the cheapest affordable health insurance plan costs more than 8% of your income.