Call it the Affordable Care Act. Call it Obamacare. Either way, those exchanges, or marketplaces, you’ve been hearing about are now open for business.
Temporary and contract workers typically need health insurance, so here’s a Q&A that tells you what you need to know about the nation’s new health care law:
Q. Who is and who isn’t required to offer health insurance?
A. Companies with fewer than 50 workers aren’t required to provide insurance. Those with more than 50 must provide affordable coverage or could face fines.
Q. As a temporary or contract worker, what are my options?
A. Public exchanges set up in each state under the new law are designed to sell affordable coverage. Each exchange offers insurance plans from several companies. Coverage is divided into four levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with premiums at the bronze level being the cheapest and platinum the most expensive. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are larger with bronze plans, and shrink as you go up the scale and pay higher monthly premiums.
Q. Can I qualify for a subsidy?
A. Yes. The government will subsidize coverage on the exchanges if an individual’s income is no more than $45,960 and up to $94,200 for a family of four. You can also buy insurance through a broker, on a private exchange or directly from an insurer, but it’s likely to be more expensive and it won’t be subsidized.
Q. Can someone help me figure out what to do?
A. A health insurance broker can help you decide which insurance plan is best. So can a financial planner or attorney with expertise in health care law. Exchanges will have help available through toll-free numbers and online chats. But you’ll only get information about plans on the exchange, not other options available to you.
Q. Where can I find information online?
A. www.healthcare.gov is the government’s main source of information about insurance on the exchanges and has links to the exchanges. State websites also have information and links to exchanges. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which researches health care issues, has information at http://kff.org/aca-consumer-resources
About the Author
Lon is the former publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group.He has served in leadership roles at various newspapers in Iowa, Florida and Wisconsin. Lon received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and attended the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Earlier in his career, Lon spent several years as a sea captain and held a 100-ton Coast Guard license. Lon is a former rugby player, referee and administrator and now coaches under 13 year old kids. Lon has served on the boards of numerous community and business organizations including Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Peak Venture Group, CS Quality of Life Indicators Business Index Committee, Junior Achievement and is a member of The Colorado Thirty Group. Lon was given the “Making the Pikes Peak region a better place to live work and play” award by the CS Chamber of Commerce, was the VFW Post 1’s business citizen of the year.