The 5 Biggest Myths of the Affordable Care Act
Don’t believe the rumors.
Death panels may be the most well-known health care myth. That myth began before the Affordable Care Act was even passed. It’s been widely debunked and demystified. Still, other rumors persist. As the opening date for the Health Insurance Marketplace nears, it’s important to straighten out fact from fiction.
Click through this slideshow to find out the truth behind some of the biggest myths about the Affordable Care Act.
Myth: Your tax dollars will fund abortions.
FACT: No, tax dollars do not fund elective abortions.
The Affordable Care Act says federal dollars can only be spent on abortions in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered. Women who receive tax credits or other financial assistance cannot use that money to purchase abortion coverage. If you want an insurance plan that covers the cost of abortions, you must pay for that coverage with your own money.
Insurance plans are required to cover all contraceptive methods approved by the FDA, however. These methods include birth control pills, emergency contraception, and implanted devices.
Myth: It’s cheaper to pay the penalty than purchase insurance.
FACT: It gets more and more expensive.
The penalty for not having insurance in 2014 is 1 percent of your income or $95, whichever is higher. The maximum a family will pay in 2014 is $285. That may seem insignificant now, but the number continues to increase year after year. For example, the penalty for an individual without health insurance in 2016 is $695. For a family, the penalty is $2,085.
In addition, people without health insurance will be responsible for 100 percent of their health expenses. If you have a medical emergency and do not have health insurance, you will not have any financial protection against bankruptcy.
Myth: Health insurance will be more expensive once health reform begins.
FACT: We just don’t know yet.
The simple economic reality is this: More people will soon want to purchase health insurance. That means more customers who are willing to pay. Health insurance providers will have more money and might be able to cut rates for customers. However, some analysts say the increase in customers with pre-existing conditions will stress the health insurance market, and providers will have more and bigger bills coming from these customers.
The bottom line: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Create a budget, and know what you can afford when you begin shopping. Don’t bet on not getting sick. You—and your bank accounts—may regret that bet.
Myth: Health insurance reform is a government takeover of health care.
FACT: Private insurance companies, not the government, are the core of the Affordable Care Act.
The federal government does not sell health insurance. The federal government only runs the insurance exchanges for some states. Private companies sell insurance in the Marketplace. If you purchase insurance through the Marketplace, you buy from a private company, not from the government.
The Act is designed to create more business for private insurance companies. People with pre-existing conditions want to buy health insurance. The Act creates a market so that they’re able to do just that. The more people paying for insurance, the more money companies have. This creates competition and hopefully makes coverage much less expensive for individuals.
Myth: You can be denied coverage.
FACT: You cannot be denied coverage.
Starting in 2014, you cannot be denied health insurance coverage because you have a pre-existing condition. If you were previously denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, you can still apply for health insurance in the Marketplace. Health insurance providers cannot charge you more or deny you because of your condition.
Insurance companies also cannot charge you more for having a pre-existing condition. Women cannot be charged more because of their gender. If you’ve been previously denied, be sure to apply for coverage once open enrollment begins.
Know the facts.
Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Each year, more and more pieces of it go into effect. We’re quickly nearing the beginning of the open enrollment period, yet a lot of myths and mistruths persist.
The penalty for not purchasing health insurance may be low the first year, but it grows quickly. Plus, you’re left paying for 100 percent of any health expenses you have. You will not receive any financial assistance, and you cannot file for bankruptcy.
Before you begin shopping for health insurance for you or your family, it’s important you understand what’s real and what isn’t. Sort through the facts and make the best decisions for you.
- What are my birth control benefits? (n.d.) The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from https://www.healthcare.gov/what-are-my-birth-control-benefits/.
- The Requirement to Buy Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act. (n.d.) The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://kff.org/infographic/the-requirement-to-buy-coverage-under-the-affordable-care-act/.
- What if someone doesn't have health coverage in 2014? (n.d.) The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from https://www.healthcare.gov/what-if-someone-doesnt-have-health-coverage-in-2014/.
- What is the Health Insurance Marketplace? (n.d.) The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from https://www.healthcare.gov/what-is-the-health-insurance-marketplace/#state=alabama.
- What if I have a pre-existing health condition? (n.d.) The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from https://www.healthcare.gov/what-if-i-have-a-pre-existing-health-condition/.