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Health Care Reform Timeline 2014 Posted: September 23rd, 2010

By Megg Mueller

Many of the provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act go into place in 2014. A number of these changes have to do with consumer access to health care through health insurance exchanges and employer-sponsored medical insurance. The much-discussed individual mandate, which requires nearly all U.S. citizen to carry health insurance, goes into effect this year. Additionally, health insurers face many significant changes.

On Jan. 1, 2014, the following reforms are scheduled to take place:

  • Individual mandate. Most individuals are required to carry health insurance, and most employers (with 50 or more employees) must provide coverage. Both individuals and employers face penalties for non-compliance. Certain groups are exempt from the individual mandate, including American Indians, those with religious objections and those who would face financial hardship by purchasing health insurance. If you would end up paying more than 8 percent of your income for health insurance, you are not subject to penalties for opting not to buy coverage.
  • Health insurance exchanges. You have the option to buy health insurance through state-run insurance marketplaces called exchanges. Starting in 2014 year, members of Congress must get their health insurance through exchanges. If you have health coverage through your employer but your policy covers less than 60 percent of costs, or you pay more than 9.5 percent of your income to get that coverage, you can buy subsidized coverage.
  • Health insurance--freedom of choice. If you still can't afford the insurance coverage offered by your employer, you can take the funds they would have contributed to the group plan and use them to buy an individual health insurance policy from the exchange.
  • Medical insurance subsidies. Families and individuals with income up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four) earn subsidies to buy health insurance.
  • Health insurance companies. Beginning in 2014, health insurance companies are banned from charging higher premiums because of a person's gender or because of a pre-existing condition. Additionally, annual limits on coverage are no longer allowed for new plans and existing group plans.
  • Medical insurance for small businesses. Small-group deductibles are limited to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. Contributions can be offered to offset any amounts above these limits.
  • Waiting periods. Waiting periods for coverage are to be capped at 90 days.
  • Changes in Medicaid. Families and individuals who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty level (about $14,000 for an individual and $29,000 for a family of four) can enroll in Medicaid. 
  • Medicare. The out-of-pocket maximum that Medicare Part D enrollees pay for catastrophic coverage will be lowered.
  • Clinical trials. People who participate in clinical trials are no longer be at risk of having their insurance company drop their coverage. This ruling applies to any clinical trial that treats cancer or other life-threatening diseases.

Many of the reforms under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act go into place in 2014, but other legislative changes, between 2010-2014 are important as well. Be sure you are aware of how your health insurance and your health care choices may change under of health reform.