Your health care, reformed

The Affordable Care Act (also called Health Care Reform) is already in effect, but do you know what's new for you?

Now you can get health insurance even if you're already sick. You'll also get ten essential health benefits that every health plan is required to include. And if you can't afford a plan, you may be eligible for a Federal Subsidy.

Here's what you should know.

Open enrollment

Open enrollment is the time during which anyone can sign up for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace at

Qualifying life event

If you experience a life event change at any time during the year you can apply for new health insurance within 60 days of the event, regardless of open enrollment. Learn more.

Five key parts of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act could change what kind of health plans you qualify for, how much you'll be asked to pay and the benefits you'll receive. Here's why:

  1. Individual mandate
    Most people are required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
  2. Help with costs
    If you have difficulty paying for health care, the government may help you pay for some or all of your health expenses. Those who qualify could either receive tax credits or be able to pay a lesser amount for a plan that meets their needs. That includes many people who don't already get help from the government.
  3. Full-time hours
    Employers with more than 50 employees are required to provide health insurance coverage to full-time employees or pay a fine.
  4. Guaranteed coverage
    You can enroll in a health plan even if you already have serious and expensive health problems. You will not pay more because of your health problems.
  5. Ten essential health benefits
    Health plans are required to offer a core set of ten essential health benefits in all of their individual and small group health plan offerings. You now get the following benefits:
    • Preventive, wellness and disease management services
      Physical, flu shot, gynecological exam and birth control
    • Emergency care
      Treatment for broken bones, heart attacks and more at a hospital emergency room
    • Ambulatory services
      Minor surgeries, blood tests and X-rays
    • Hospitalization
      Treatment at a hospital for a condition that requires you to stay overnight or multiple days
    • Maternity and newborn services
      Care through the course of a pregnancy, delivery of the baby and checkups after the baby is born
    • Pediatric services, including dental and vision
      Well visits, shots to prevent serious health conditions, teeth cleanings, braces, exams, glasses and contact lenses
    • Prescription drugs
      High blood pressure medicine, insulin, antibiotics and birth control pills
    • Laboratory services
      Blood test
    • Mental health and substance abuse services, including behavioral health treatment
      Getting help to deal with conditions like depression, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse
    • Rehabilitation and habilitation services
      Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy

In addition, you may not have to pay anything extra for many preventive services that can help you stay healthy. Some examples of preventive services are wellness visits, immunizations and screenings for cancer and other diseases.

For more details on how the Affordable Care Act affects you, visit