Individual Health Insurance - Coverage for Those without an Employer Based Plan
After the health care reform was passed into law, the possibilities for people without employer sponsored health insurance began to open up. To get a better idea of what is available and who can qualify, here are a few common questions and the answers that most often apply to them. Keep in mind that the new laws will not be finalized until 2014, and that these answers do not apply to everyone.
Am I required to have insurance?
You are not required to have health insurance yet, but you will be. If you have not gotten health insurance by 2014, you will be penalized on your taxes for not doing so. There is no jail time for people who do not have health insurance, but failing to get coverage by then.
I have a "pre-existing condition." Can I get insurance now?
There are currently high-risk insurance pools for people who are not able to get regular health insurance because of preexisting conditions. However, by 2014 those pools will no longer be necessary because health insurance companies will be required to provide insurance regardless of any medical conditions you may have.
Can my insurance be canceled because I made a mistake on the application?
As of September 23, 2010, insurance companies are no longer allowed to cancel a person's health insurance because of administrative or unintentional errors on their insurance applications. You can still be dropped for falsifying information, but not for making an "honest mistake."
Can I get free health insurance?
The only free health insurance plan is Medicaid, and qualification for that coverage is determined by the state laws in which you live. When the health reform goes into full swing in 2014, you may be eligible for tax subsidies if you are not able to pay for coverage on your own. To qualify for those, you will have to meet certain criteria, but the basic idea is that you can get assistance if you make less than 400% of the national poverty level income.
How long can my child are covered on my insurance?
Beginning in September of 2010, you can continue to include your child, or add them back onto your health insurance coverage until they are 26 years old. There is no requirement for the child to be enrolled in school, a limiting factor that most insurance companies have used up until the new law went into effect.
Will my individual health insurance have lifetime coverage limits?
Another benefit of the law that went into effect in 2010 is that insurance companies are no longer able to impose lifetime limits on any type of essential health care. Keep in mind that this law only applies to essential services, or those that could adversely affect your health if you do not get them.