What Obamacare Will Mean for You

by Gerri Willis

Open wide and say “ugh!”

The Supreme Court has spoken, and Obamacare remains the law of the land.

You may be wondering what this means for you.

Well if you have insurance already, don't expect to be spared from the overhaul. Existing plans will change to meet new regulations, like preventative services must be covered without out-of-pocket costs. That's the good news.

The bad news is this -- if you get your plan from an employer, watch out. They might stop offering coverage, and you'll have to find insurance yourself. That's because Obamacare makes it uneconomic for many employers to offer coverage.

What about your premiums? Watch those continue to rise because the cost of health care is still growing as much as three times faster than inflation. Obamacare has rules to hold down premiums for some groups, but it also forces providers to make their benefits more generous, raising costs more. And you can believe that cost will get passed on to you.

Now this is supposed to be a health-care overhaul, but today life looks pretty much the same for most people. So when are the big changes coming?


That's when the Medicaid expansion goes into effect. States must roll out online insurance exchanges where you can pick out a policy -- kind of like Expedia or Travelocity, but for health insurance instead of plane tickets. And some folks will get a tax credit to offset their premium costs.

Insurance companies will have to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. And 2014 is when the individual mandate hits. If you don't have insurance, you'll be paying that tax penalty.

In the first year, that's $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. And it goes up from there. That works out to $560 for the average American rising to over $1,400 in 2016. So the mandate is a tax, but it's not the only one. In fact it's the least of it!

Obamacare contains at least 20 tax hikes on families and businesses adding up to almost $420 billion. The Medicare tax rises by nearly 1% on salaries and self-employed income in 2013. Investment income gets walloped too. Maximum federal tax rates on long-term gains go to 23.8% in 2013 versus today's 15%.And, the maximum rate on dividends goes to 43.3% up from 15 percent now.

There's other bad news in the law for consumers too as Obamacare weakens the popular flexible spending accounts and makes it harder to deduct medical expenses.

So much to look forward too, right? Until that time, understand some of the law is already in place like the requirement insurers allow kids to stay on their parents' policies until the age of 26. But frankly the good stuff was put into the early years of the bills' rollout while the not so attractive stuff goes into effect later. And in reality, Obamacare could still bite the dust.

So far, House Republicans have voted 30 times to repeal or rein in the health care law. If Republicans can win back the Senate and the White House, we could be looking at a whole new ball game.

We can only hope there will be change -- massive change and that Obamacare will be repealed.