A large number of Americans have health coverage after the Affordable Care Act was passed and most of them are happy with the health care they are receiving. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 6.5 million Americans had selected new plans or were automatically re-enrolled into a plan via HealthCare.gov as of Dec. 26, 2014. When open enrollment began last November half the uninsured had plans to buy a health plan. The newly insured were ready to buy a new policy or renew their current policy.
According to the Affordable Care Act no one could be refused health insurance due to past medical history. "On the positive side, it's a lot easier for people to get coverage now," said Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealth.com, an online health insurance exchange based in Mountain View, Calif. "The quality of coverage is also better with many preventive services available at no out-of-pocket costs. Just make sure to sign up before open enrollment ends on February 15."
AdvertisementMore Millennials and Gen X-ers have bought health insurance - the uninsured rate fell the most among 18- to 25-year-olds, declining 6.1 points from a year ago. The rate among 26- to 34-year-olds dipped by 5.6 points and declined by 5.2 points for 35- to 64-year-olds. The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage so that people could be covered under their parents' health insurance until they turned 26. Only two in five Americans under the age of 65 have employer-based coverage.
The one drawback is that the cost of health insurance continues to rise, so budgeting for health insurance is becoming more important.
At the last minute before the period for open enrollment ended in 2013, Darren Hall, a 45-year-old Sacramento swimming pool contractor bought his health insurance plan diffidently. Hall has full medical and dental coverage through Blue Cross now; he pays out $413 each month.
"That is a truck payment," he said. "I watch the $413 going out each month. It's like flushing it down the toilet and I hate having it." Hall considered foregoing health insurance and just paying the penalty instead. Unwilling to take the chance that without any coverage, he could easily wind up paying up thousands of dollars in medical bills he couldn't afford, Hall bought the silver plan. "I'm just one of these people that if I don't have insurance, I predict something will happen," he said. "The thought crossed my mind to just pay the penalty since it is peanuts compared to what I am paying and I go to the doctor maybe once a year."
Gen X-ers are facing increased costs for health insurance in 2014 like their counterparts. The coverage they are receiving is better than what was offered in 2013, but since many of them are now insuring children while also paying their mortgages and paying down old student debt, X-ers may "feel the pinch rather acutely," said McLean.
Source: Ellen Chang
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