The establishment of health insurance exchanges is one of the key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)  The exchanges are meant to provide affordable coverage to the uninsured.  But their establishment has caused some confusion and with the help of and the Washington Post, we’re going to try and make some sense out of their creation means.

1.    If you are an individual buyer do you have to buy insurance through the exchanges?  No.  As stated above, the exchanges are meant to offer affordable coverage to the uninsured.  You an also choose to buy your policy through the private market.  Both polices bought through the exchanges and via the private market must meet minimum coverage requirements.

2.    Will rates go up for younger people?  Maybe.  A provision of the ACA says that premiums for older people cannot be more than three times higher than those for younger people.  But many young people will qualify for premium subsidies if they make less than $45,960.  There will be other money-saving measures available to them, such as high-deductible polices which may require more pay-as-you-go charges.  These discounts will help to lessen the impact of possible rate inceases.

3.    How does the law impact health insurance savings accounts? To qualify to make tax deductible health savings accounts deposits, the insured’s insurance policy must have a minimum deductible of $1,250 and $2,500 for a family policy.

4.    What are the penalties if a consumer chooses to NOT purchase any type of health insurance?  The fines in the first year are $95 or 1% of your income for the year.  They increase in 2015 and again in 2016.

Open enrollment will take place October 2013 through March 2014.