What Is Obamacare?

Published: September 11, 2013
Dear What Is Obamacare?,

I hear people talking about Obamacare. Some people seem really happy and others seem really annoyed about it. What is it exactly? I'll be starting college next September, so not sure if it means anything for me.

Dear What Is Obamacare?,

The health care law, often referred to as “Obamacare,” was passed with the aim of helping millions of uninsured Americans to get more affordable health insurance as well as new benefits. The law also says that most people who don’t have insurance by January 2014 will have to pay a fine.

Planned Parenthood does a great job of breaking down information about the health care law, so we will pass on that information to you:

What if I don’t currently have health insurance?

Almost everyone will have to get health insurance. The law says you must have health insurance by 2014 or you’ll have to pay a fine. The good news: starting October 1, new, more affordable, quality health insurance plans will be available for you to enroll in.

All of the new plans will cover doctor visits, hospitalizations, maternity care, prescription medications, ER care and more. And birth control and annual well-woman exams will be provided without a copay!

You might be wondering how you’re going to afford it. 

Under the law, millions of people will get financial help to buy a plan. In fact, most individuals making less than $45,960 per year will get help paying for a plan.

And don’t worry. You don’t have to choose your insurance plan alone. There will be help available online, on the phone or in person to help you find a plan that meets your needs and your budget. 

What if I already have health insurance?

If you already have health insurance, the law has new benefits like free birth control and annual well-woman exams. It also makes sure that insurance companies can’t put limits on how much they will pay for care you might need. And you can stay on your parents’ health insurance plan up to age 26. If for any reason you lose your current insurance, it also means there will be affordable options for you to buy a new plan.

Benefits for Women

The health care law has many new benefits for women. Here are a few of them:

  • You can get prescription birth control for free (no copay).
  • You can get annual well-woman exams, as well as HIV and STD screenings, for free (no copay).
  • Insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition, like diabetes or cancer.
  • You cannot be charged more for insurance simply because you’re a woman.

As for your options for health coverage once you are in college, TeenHealthFX recommends you speak to your parents about what kind of coverage they have in terms of your being able to continue under their plan once you are a college student. For more information you can also read Student Health Insurance – Options for Health Coverage.