insurance

2014 brings Obamacare savings and sanctions

Medicaid expansion
Medicaid expansion © ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

The Affordable Care Act as written would have expanded Medicaid insurance for the poor in 2014 to virtually all Americans under age 65 who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its landmark 2012 ruling on health reform, upheld the expansion but made it a state-by-state option rather than a requirement.

To date, 25 states plus the District of Columbia have either approved or are moving toward expanding Medicaid under the Obamacare model.

Medicaid expansion goes well beyond merely raising the qualifying income level in many cases, Palanker says. It also welcomes thousands of adults previously shut out of the program.

"We see situations where childless adults or parents with a child on Medicaid or CHIP (the federal Children's Health Insurance Program) don't qualify for Medicaid themselves," she says.

While the eligibility rules for Medicaid vary state to state, most have offered free or low-cost health coverage only for low-income adults with children, pregnant women, and some seniors and people with disabilities. Owing to the patchwork nature of Medicaid expansion, many Americans who did not qualify previously may now qualify.

To assess your eligibility, check out Bankrate's map of states expanding Medicaid or visit Medicaid.gov.

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