There’s so much to understand about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare.) Today we’re just going to focus on one section: Medicaid Expansion.
Medicaid expansion means that people under certain income limits (which you can find on Single Moms Income) will qualify for free health insurance. Right now different states have different rules on who qualifies for Medicaid. The goal with this aspect of the ACA was to make it an across the board thing in order to work with other aspects of the plan. However, the federal government was only going to supply the funds for this expansion for a couple of years after which time states would have to take over a major part of the bill, so the Supreme Court decided that each state had a right to decide if they were going to implement the expansion and accept the funds or not. Right now, this is where the states stand:
If you’re living in a state that’s accepting it (or in dark blue,) you’re good. Apply for Medicaid because you’ll get it if you’re below those income limits. If you’re in a dark red state, however, don’t expect much to change for you.
States that aren’t accepting the expansion with continue on with the status quo, so if you weren’t eligible before Obamacare, you probably won’t be now. You won’t have insurance. You may be thinking that’s unfair if you’ve heard about the tax that will be placed on uninsured individuals during tax season (which is $95 per person for the first year, but will rise steeply quickly.) Even though you may be worrying about your health, the tax is one thing you shouldn’t worry about: if you’re below those income guidelines and your state isn’t expanding Medicaid, you aren’t responsible for that tax. So for you, pretty much nothing is changing. (Another way you are not responsible for the tax is if the amount you’d be paying for your premium is above 8% of your income. Then you don’t have to buy insurance or pay the tax. Even if you’re above that income limit for Medicaid.)
Then there’s those periwinkle states that are considering an alternative. Pennsylvania is one of them. Pretty much what that means is that they’ve said they won’t expand Medicaid the way the Federal government wants them to, but they will restructure it another way and still accept the federal money. The feds have yet to approve these plans.
For example, Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania has proposed a plan where Medicaid recipients pay $25/mo to get Medicaid—which will actually be plans provided by private insurers. They will not have to pay co-pays when they go to the doctor, which is supposed to inspire participants to cut back on ER trips. I haven’t read anything about deductibles or out-of-pocket costs, but I’m assuming individuals will still be responsible for them since they are not mentioned.
This plan hasn’t been approved yet. Neither have many of the others. Until they are approved, keep up on what your state’s status is. If there’s no medicaid option for you, including one that your state has “in the works” but you cannot yet apply for, you can’t be held liable for the tax if you are under the income limits.