Obamacare in 2019

I was talking with my husband the other day about health care when a friend who overheard us asked me, “Is Obamacare still a thing?”  There is a lot of misinformation out there about the status of Obamacare, what parts of the Act still apply, and whether it’s been repealed under the current administration.  These are the answers I gave our friend:

“Obamacare” is a nickname given to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because it was a major initiative passed during Barack Obama’s presidency.  The Act governs health care insurance in the United States and, though some have suggested that it will be repealed, the legislation is currently still alive and well - for the most part.

Under the PPACA, Americans without health care coverage through other sources are required to enroll in one of the major medical insurance plans offered via government exchange each fall.  Americans can also apply for income-based subsidies through the exchanges. Generally, the enrollment period runs from November 1 through December 15, but some states allow extended enrollment. 

The Act includes an “individual mandate,” which is a fancy way to say that you must enroll in some form of health care coverage.  Until this year, failure to enroll resulted in IRS penalties, but that has been repealed as of January 1, 2019. So, while the requirement to enroll is still in place, the federal government has decided that you won’t be penalized on your taxes next year if you don’t. But beware, there are a few states (not Michigan) that have their own individual mandate and corresponding penalties. If you live in one of those states, you might owe your state taxing authority if you fail to enroll, even if you don’t owe the IRS. If you have not yet filed or have an extension to file taxes from previous years, be aware that the mandate still carries penalties, as well as categories of exemption from those penalties, for years prior to 2019.

2019 saw a small dip in premiums for the Act’s benchmark silver plan, a jump of about $176/month in subsidies to individuals, and the return of several companies to the marketplace, leaving more plan choices for Americans. Approximately 11.4 million Americans are now covered under the PPACA. If you have questions about the Act or your coverage, please feel free to give us a call at (248) 477-6300.