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How Healthcare Will Change Under the Affordable Care Act The Affordable Care Act promises to provide affordable health insurance to Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or income level. The law is large and complex, so it’s important to understand the basics including the health care mandate, which will take effect in 2014. State-Based and Federal Health Insurance Exchanges Among the most significant impacts of the ACA is the online insurance marketplace. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created state-based health insurance exchanges to help consumers obtain health coverage. The remaining 27 states opted not to create state exchanges, and consumers in those states can obtain coverage through the federal exchange. Both the state and federal exchanges will enable consumers to compare plans from participating insurers and find one that best suits their needs. The added transparency and simplification of the process are intended to create incentives for insurers to become more efficient and offer better service to their customers. About the Healthcare Mandate & Subsidies The new law will require that most Americans purchase health insurance by January 1, 2014. Individuals making less than $45,960 or a family of four making less than $94,200 may qualify for subsidies from the federal government to help pay for the cost of coverage. The subsidy is awarded on a sliding scale, with low-income individuals and families receiving a larger subsidy than those with higher incomes. To keep insurance affordable, the law states that an individual will not be required to pay more than 9.5 percent of their income toward health insurance. The ACA aims to help small business owners find affordable coverage for their employees. Historically, small businesses have paid about 18 percent more for coverage plans than larger companies. The new law is intended to level the playing field, requiring businesses that employ 50 people or more to provide coverage for their workers by 2015. Tax credits will be extended to some businesses to help them offset the cost of providing coverage, and the health insurance exchanges are designed to help business owners obtain coverage for their employees.

Young People, College Students and Low-Income Individuals & Families The ACA allows young people and college students to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy through age 26. Since many recent college graduates are struggling with student loan debt and a difficult labor market, this provision could provide these individuals a much needed financial break. The ACA also expands Medicaid coverage to low-income families in an effort to help them obtain coverage. Historically, many of low-income earners have been left uninsured, earning just enough to be ineligible for assistance but too little to afford coverage on their own. Among the goals of the ACA is to shore up the social safety net for these hard-working individuals. Like any major program, the ACA has and will continue to hit bumps and delays as it is implemented. The hope is that over time the program will help slow the pace of health care cost increases and make health care accessible for all Americans. For more information visit

How Healthcare Will Change Under the Affordable Care Act