Making sense of Health Care Reform
In 2010, Congress voted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) into law.  It requires most Americans to have qualified health insurance by January 1, 2014.  And it prevents insurers from denying anyone coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

This law is intended to get more people health insurance by making it available to individuals and families who might not otherwise be able to afford it -- especially those who are not offered health benefits through an employer.  To achieve this goal, the Health Insurance marketplace was established to help people compare plans offered by multiple insurance companies.  And the government is offering cost savings to qualified individuals to help with certain health insurance costs.

If individuals choose not to get health insurance, starting in 2014, there may be a penalty.  In 2014, the minimum penalty will be $ 95 per adult and $ 47.50 per child, with the total amount for each family capped at $ 285 or 1% of family income, whichever is greater.  This fee will be assesed when you file your taxes.

Don't forget, make your choice by December 23, 2013, to have coverage starting January 1, 2014.  The extended deadline of March 31, 2014, is the last day you can enroll during the open enrollment period for coverage for the the remainder of 2014.  However, you may have to pay a penalty for each month without insurance.