Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here's What's New

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed ACA into law, enabling all Americans to obtain health insurance via the online marketplaces. Although Americans have had access to Obamacare for a little over a year now, some provisions of the law will change for 2015.

If you're planning on buying health insurance this year, there are a few things that are new.

Here's What You Need to Know for 2015

Open Enrollment Ends February 15

Anyone without health coverage can sign up during the open enrollment period, which runs November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. If you miss open enrollment, you may qualify under the special circumstances period, which grants individuals and families 60 days from a status change, such as birth, marriage, or loss of insurance to apply for coverage.

New Contribution Limits

FSA contribution limits have been raised by $50 for individuals to $2,550. Also, the "Use It or Lose It" rule has now been amended — in many cases, you can now carry-over up to $500 of your FSA balance into the following year. However, carry-over funds are only extended for use through March 15th of the following year.

HSA contribution limits have been increased by $50 for individuals to $3,350, and up $100 for families to $6,650.

Out of Pocket Cost Caps

Maximum out-of-pocket costs are now $6,600 for individuals and $13,200 for families. This is the most you can be accountable for during a coverage year before your provider must cover 100% of medical expenses. This includes deductibles, co-payments, qualified premiums, and other qualified health related expenses.

Employer Mandate Kicks In

As of 2015, the Employer Mandate kicks in. All employers with 100 or more full-time employees must provide a company health plan. Employers with 50-100 employees have until 2016 to implement these changes.

Understanding the Patient's Bill of Rights

As always, it's important to remember that the benefits of the ACA are for all Americans covered by health insurance — not just those who purchased theirs via the government-run marketplaces. Under this "Patient's Bill of Rights," you are entitled to some benefits.

  • You qualify for health coverage regardless if you have a pre-existing condition.
  • You can no longer be denied coverage for a mistake on your application.
  • You now have access to out-of-network emergency care (without penalty).
  • You now have the power to choose any physician or pediatrician of choice within your network, and you no longer need a referral for OB-GYN services.
  • Those receiving Medicare get a 50% discount on brand-name drugs.
  • You can stay on a parent's health plan until the age of 26.
  • Insurance companies can no longer use annual and lifetime dollar limits of benefits.
  • Most plans have to provide free preventive care services, including certain immunizations and screenings for things like women's services, blood pressure, diabetes, depression, HIV, and more.
  • Insurance companies cannot increase your rate in excess of 10% without public disclosure.

But remember: The ACA mandates that every individual must have health insurance, or face a penalty. Those not in compliance with the law will face significant fees. The fee for 2015 increased and is the greater of: $325 per year for individuals and $162.50 a year per child, or 2% of your annual income. So if you don't yet have health insurance, consider taking advantage of the ACA's benefits and sign up before open enrollment ends February 15th.

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