From its rocky rollout on Oct. 1 to the cascade of tweaks and delays that followed, the Affordable Care Act – or ObamaCare – made many headlines in 2013.
During the final weeks of December, the Obama administration announced yet another key change. On Dec. 19, the White House said it would let people whose health care policies were canceled under ObamaCare buy bare-bones "catastrophic coverage" plans, or skirt the individual mandate altogether. In addition, the deadline to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1 was pushed back.
Those changes aside, as we enter Year One of the health care law's full implementation, here’s a breakdown of the changes heading your way in 2014.
Individual mandate: If you’re currently not insured or don’t meet the exemption requirements, you have until March 31, 2014 to get insured. That's when open enrollment ends. This is also when the so-called individual mandate really kicks in -- after that date, the government can slap a fine on those who have failed to purchase insurance. How much? The annual penalty for 2014 is $95 per person (or $47.50 per child under 18) with up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of the family’s income – whichever is greater.
Fees on insurers: Under the law, the federal government will begin to impose fees on the insurance industry to fund various ObamaCare provisions. Insurance companies have long warned that once these fees kick in, insurance premiums could rise.
No limits on coverage: In 2014, insurers will be barred from imposing annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
Subsidies: With the launch of the insurance exchanges, the law in 2014 will provide tax credits as well as subsidies to individuals who qualify. The premium subsidies will be allotted to families with incomes at 133-400 percent of the federal poverty level, for insurance through exchanges.
Co-payments: Employers will be required to limit the amount of co-payments and deductibles an employee will be asked to cough up for covered services to $6,350 per person, per year.
Medicaid expansion: As part of the law's goal of getting millions more people insured, 2014 will mark a drastic expansion of Medicaid. It will now cover people not currently eligible for Medicare under the age of 65 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty levels.
Wellness programs: This allows employers to offer workers rewards of up to 50 percent of the cost of coverage for participating in a wellness program and meeting certain health standards.