Obamacare is meant to provide health coverage to the millions of Americans who don't have it, but the cruel irony is that millions of other Americans may lose their current health insurance as a result.
These "losers" are primarily people who buy their own health insurance rather than have it provided by an employer. Many now find their plans will be canceled because they fail to meet the minimum coverage requirements under Obamacare. These plans offer "bare bones insurance...usually catastrophic care...and beginning Jan. 1 insurance companies will not be allowed to offer these very plans," says Rick Newman, Yahoo Finance columnist.
No one knows for sure exactly how many of those 15 million will actually lose their current insurance coverage. NPR reports that some insurers are canceling 20% of individual plans; others are canceling 80% of them.
Those individuals whose policies are canceled will have to either buy insurance on the health care exchanges -- when the Healthcare.gov site is working -- or pay a penalty. In 2014 the penalty is minimal: $95 per person up to a family maximum of $285, or 1% of family income, whichever is greater. But the penalty increases over the following two years, running as high has $695 per person by 2016 or $2,065 for a family of four, or 2.5% of family income, whichever is greater.
If you're not getting a tax refund for 2014 you're "apparently" off the hook for paying a penalty, says Newman.
Still, it might make more sense for those whose policies are canceled to not worry about penalties and buy a new policy instead, especially if they qualify for a government subsidy (available to those whose incomes are four times the national poverty level for a family of four -- $94,000).
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