The most well-known provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” requires Americans to have “minimum essential health insurance” for themselves, spouses and dependents starting on January 1, 2014. The legislation also included a new tax credit and penalty related to the health care reform.

If you already have health insurance through an employer or government-sponsored program like Medicare or Medicaid, or you purchase insurance on your own, you likely have “minimum essential” coverage and won't have to do anything different in 2014.

The health care act requires those who do not have insurance to obtain coverage by January 1, 2014, or pay a tax penalty. If your employer does not offer insurance, you can purchase on your own or through your state's health insurance marketplace (also called exchanges) through March 31, 2014. However, if you need to enroll in coverage after March 31 you may qualify for a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event like having a baby, getting married, or losing other coverage. The next enrollment window open to everyone will start November 15. The goal of marketplaces is to offer uninsured Americans an easy way to compare and purchase affordable health insurance. Marketplaces will offer 4 levels of coverage defined by the percentage of the plan paid for by the insurance company:

  • Bronze plans cover 60% of covered healthcare expenses
  • Silver cover 70%
  • Gold cover 80%
  • Platinum cover 90%

If you purchase coverage through a marketplace, you may be eligible for a tax credit and cost-sharing subsidies. Find out how much you can save on health insurance now.

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If you do not have health insurance, you will be subject to a penalty that will be calculated and paid on your federal tax return. Learn more

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