Welcome to HealthCare Checkup, a new blog intended to get us all better acquainted with the Affordable Care Act. We’ll keep you updated on health-insurance changes in Washington state and around the country that could affect you.
We’re pretty sure you’ve got questions about the federal health-care overhaul. Here, in just a few words — and a short animated video — is the quick overview you will need to wow your friends.
Basically, one major aim of the ACA is to pull everyone into one big insured pot by 2014. Most people are already there, because they’re insured through their workplace, through federal or state programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, military benefits or tribal health plans. But about 16 percent of the the people in Washington are uninsured, many because they can’t afford the premiums. That’s more than 1 million people in our state, so it’s likely that even if you’re already insured, you know someone who isn’t.
The law, which requires most people to have health insurance or pay a penalty, has two major ways to help people who don’t have insurance: One, Medicaid eligibility is being expanded, and federal dollars pumped in, so many more people at the very lowest income levels will qualify for the first time. Two, putting faith in the power of competition, the law creates an online marketplace (the “exchange”) to make it easier for people to compare insurance plans and, if their incomes are low enough, get a subsidy so they can afford to buy.
Now that you’ve slogged through the words, here’s the fun — such that it is: A quick video version to help cement your new-found knowledge.