Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called Obamacare, is a federal law designed to increase the number of people who have health insurance, improve the quality and affordability of health insurance, and reduce the costs of healthcare. It contains several provisions that are rolling out over time starting in 2010 and continuing in 2014 and beyond.
- New Health Insurance Requirement — Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the "Individual Shared Responsibility Provision" of the federal ACA requires most people to get health insurance or pay a penalty. Some students may qualify for an exemption from this requirement.
Penalties for failing to meet the requirement:
- In 2014, the penalty will be $95 or 1% of your taxable income, whichever is larger. In later years, the penalty will increase, eventually reaching 2.5% of your taxable income.
- If you owe a penalty, it will be assessed with your 2014 income tax form, which is due April 15, 2015.
- You can't go to jail for not paying the penalty, and the government can't garnish your wages, but the IRS can withhold your tax refund.
- Learn more about this part of the ACA and the penalty at Internal Revenue Service: Q&A on the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision.
- Healthcare Marketplace — Also known as an "Exchange," this is a new "one-stop shop" service designed to help people find and compare health insurance costs and coverage. Financial help to pay for health insurance is available to qualifying individuals. Marketplace plans must meet or exceed standards set forth in the ACA. While many states have established their own Marketplaces, the Marketplace in Texas is operated by the federal government. You can learn more at About the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- Other Provisions — The law contains many provisions. Here are a few that directly impact UT Dallas students:
- Preventative services are covered at 100% (no cost to the patient).
- People ages 25 and younger can join, stay, on, or return to a parent's plan, even if you are:
- attending school (or not)
- not living with your parents
- financially independent
- eligible to enroll in your employer's plan (in 2014)
- Starting in 2014, health insurance companies can no longer refuse to cover you or charge you more if you already have a health condition.
- Health insurance companies cannot set annual or lifetime limits on how much they will pay for your healthcare.
- Health insurance will cost the same for men and women. In other words, women no longer have to pay more for health coverage than men do.