The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, reminds me of doing taxes: It’s a bit foreboding and complicated, but comprehending it is for many a necessary chore. But at least taxes are somewhat familiar.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of free help out there, including several stories from us.
The Washington Post is running an ongoing Q&A with health care experts and reporters, for starters. Questions are taken all day and are being answered in the early afternoon Eastern time. The answers are archived, so you can review a few days’ worth of already-answered questions for insight, such as this:
Q: My retiree contract has retiree heath insurance for my son who is 23 until he is 26. Both my husband and I are covered under this plan until I am Medicare age. Can my son stay on my retiree health plan as before? At 26, when he comes off my plan, what does he need to do? Is there a specific time of the year that he needs to get insurance at 26?
A: When your son ages off your plan, he will need to purchase health insurance coverage, either on his own or through an employer, or pay a tax penalty to the federal government.
He can do this whenever his coverage under your plan ends. While there are certain open enrollment periods, people who lose their insurance coverage get an exemption: They can purchase a new plan whenever their old insurance coverage expires.
NPR recently answered several listener questions, and may answer more in the future. One self-employed listener asked whether the subsidies for premiums would be based on gross or net income. The answer:
The subsidies, which are available to those earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, are based on your modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI. That includes things like wages and interest, less deductions like tuition and alimony, and additional payroll taxes paid by the self-employed. You’ll be asked to estimate what your income will be for next year; if you’re wrong, you’ll have to reconcile with the IRS come tax time the following April.
Politifact.com also rounded up the biggest myths about health care reform.
AL.com is hosting an ongoing Alabama-centric health care chat with reporter Lee Roop, and many commenters are chiming in with resources, though you’ll have to wade through quite a bit of political bickering to find them. You may find news organizations in your state are doing the same — The Seattle Times also has a Q&A.
The federal government’s own website, HealthCare.gov, has a live chat feature and a tool to search for local in-person help. Alternatively, you can call (800) 318-2596.
Watch out for people demanding fees to help you figure out Obamacare. They’re almost certainly scammers.