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Affordable Care Act & Plans

SCOTUS approves ObamaCare

6/28/12  The United States Supreme Court has approved the “Affordable Care Act”, which is intended to provide nearly all Americans with inexpensive, or free, health insurance & medical care.   Officially named the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010.

The massive health care program, commonly known as “ObamaCare” has been hugely controversial, and this Court ruling is perhaps one of the most important in decades.

In the written majority opinion of the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts stated:
“The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part  The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause..”
“That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

Various provisions of the new law will take effect over the next two years, with full implementation scheduled for January 1, 2014.  Before that time, a plethora of problems will have to be ironed out, as nearly the entire health & insurance industry will undergo major changes.

Under the terms of the new law, nearly all Americans will be required to buy insurance, or else pay a fine which will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service.  The Court’s ruling defines that penalty as a tax.  Families with less than $29,000 income are to be excluded from the penalty tax, and presumably will be provided with free health care through the expansion of Medicaid.  However, the Supreme Court also ruled that states cannot be forced to join the newly expanded program, which could conceivably leave many low-income people uninsured.

For people who decide to remain without insurance, ObamaCare will impose minimum individual penalties, implemented the Internal Revenue Service :
2014:    $95
2015:    $325
2016:    2.5 percent of income ($2,085 maximum) per family.