Under 2010's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ACA), several reforms have been or are being put into place in the U.S. One of them, the so-called individual mandate, has a key deadline in one week.
The ACA reform most important to me personally, now that I'll forever have had a thyroid cancer diagnosis, is that it is now illegal for any health insurance company to refuse insurance policy coverage to me for having a pre-existing condition. We can no longer ever be dropped from or denied an insurance policy because of our thyca.
Also beneficial, I believe, in the uneven insurance landscape, is that quality of insurance must now meet certain minimum requirements: companies may not impose an annual or lifetime cap on payouts for healthcare (i.e., no so-called junk insurance); 80% or more of premiums must be spent on actual healthcare; preventive care must be fully covered; kids' dental and vision must be covered; and young adults must be allowed to be covered on a parent's plan up to age 26.
The individual mandate is the part that is coming due in one week for those who are not already covered by an employer, by Medicare, or otherwise. This, the so-far most visible and talked-about part of the reforms, involves the state-based health insurance exchanges. These are marketplaces, accessed online, via call center, and via in-person outreach by community-based navigators, where individuals may purchase private health insurance policies. Many states provide new Medicaid subsidies for low-income residents. The exchanges for each state (and the federal exchange for people in any state that did not set up its own exchange) can be accessed via healthcare.gov. Individuals don't have to use the exchanges and can sign up for insurance privately, but must have coverage by April 1 to avoid penalties, due in 2015, under the ACA's individual mandate.
March 31 is the enrollment deadline for 2014 coverage. The next enrollment period starts Nov. 15, for 2015. If you do not have health insurance currently, or know somebody who doesn't, it is timely to go to healthcare.gov. I believe the federal website, in contrast to its rocky rollout six months ago, as well as most of the states' websites, are working fine, but if planning to shop there, I wouldn't wait til the very last possible minute to test out that theory. :)
All the best of health, healthcare, and health insurance coverage to you. I will break with my objective statements above and let my progressive self share and opine a bit with my fellow thyca travelers that when I first was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last summer and was coping with the news with some difficulty, that I cried a few grateful tears for the healthcare coverage that meant that this disease, while it could potentially kill me, could not take our home out from under us or bankrupt us, and simultaneous angry tears against anybody anywhere in any official capacity using their power to try to deny any fellow American who is sick and overwhelmed that same human dignity of healthcare coverage without the fear or reality of that family's simultaneous financial devastation. Ok, deep breath, end of rant. Be well, and be excellent to one another!