Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Q&A Health Care Reform: If You Are Uninsured

We know health reform is big and confusing. Some parts of the law started in 2010. Other parts are rolling out over the next eight years. Texas physicians have carefully studied the law to help you understand what the changes mean to your health care.

Here are a few questions Texas patients have asked their doctors. There are many more. Please feel free to submit your questions to Me&MyDoctor.

If You Are Uninsured

Q. Is it true that every Texan must now have health insurance? What will happen if I don't get health insurance?

A. The new law requires most Texans and legal immigrants to have health coverage by 2014.

If you don't, you will pay a tax penalty. For adults, the penalties are these:
  • 2014: $95 or 1 percent of income
  • 2015: $325 or 2 percent of income
  • 2016: $695 of 2.5 percent of income
  • After 2016: The dollar amount increases with inflation.
  • For children, the dollar amount of the penalty is half the numbers above.
  • For a family, the penalty will be no more than $2,085, which is 2.5 percent of income or three times the penalty for one adult in 2016.
In those states where Medicaid is not expanded, some people who can't afford to purchase health insurance won't have to pay the tax penalty.

Q. How does the new law help me now?

A. A new insurance pool, called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), allows uninsured people to buy coverage, even if they have a preexisting condition. Uninsured Texans — even cancer survivors or those with illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure — can get the coverage they need. For more information, visit www.pcip.gov.

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