This Obamacare question is being asked of me everywhere that I go. As you can guess the answer can be complex. Let me highlight some of the key points.

First, every American is now required to carry Health Insurance or pay a fine. This is actually an IRS imposed tax. The Supreme Court deemed the law as constitutional because it is a tax imposed on everyone.

Second, everyone must have an “Essential Benefits” plan with certain required benefits. These plans will be available to all starting January 1 and when your current plan renews it will be changed to an Essential Benefits plan.

There will be no pre-existing conditions on these plans. People will be rated by age, zip code and tobacco use. The insurance companies can not rate by health history, gender, height and weight ratio, or the number of prescriptions used.

Some of the mandatory coverages will be; maternity, mental health, drug and alcohol rehab, pediatric dental and vision, and a maximum out of pocket expense of $6,350 per person per year.

Medicaid (AHCCCS) will be expanded to everyone within 138% of the Federal Poverty level.

Tax credits will be available to people within 400% of the Federal Poverty level reducing the cost for many people. Benefit Sharing is available to people within 250% of the Poverty Level, lowering deductibles and co-pays.

These are just a few of the highlights. Overall rates are increasing. Insurance Companies are offering many options to help the increase in cost. Some of these are HMO plans with smaller networks of physicians and hospitals. People will see many plans with higher deductibles.

This is just the start of what people may need to know. More than ever, people should have contact with a qualified and informed professional to navigate the changes.

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