Former Members and Health-Care Reform

ICSA Today, Volume 4, Number 3, 2013

Former Members and Health-Care Reform

Livia Bardin

Starting January 1, 2014, you and your family can get health insurance no matter what your (or their) previous health history may be. In fact, health-care-reform laws will require all but a very few individuals to have health insurance. Even if you have chronic health problems, or a history of major illness, insurance companies will be required to offer you coverage. Nor can they cancel your coverage if you become ill after you have signed up. Also, starting January 1, 2014,

The new law provides subsidies for people with incomes up to four times the federal poverty level (this value is $62,000 for a family of two in 2013). The law also limits the portion of your income you can be required to use to pay for health insurance.

Insurance companies can no longer impose either annual or lifetime dollar limits that cut you off after they have paid out such set amounts for your health-care costs.

All new health-insurance policies must include an expanded set of “essential benefits,” including counseling (mental-health services), substance-abuse treatment, and rehabilitation services.

To find out whether you’re eligible for financial help or to learn about coverage, you can connect with your state’s one-stop shopping center, called a Health Benefit or Health Insurance Exchange, which will be opening October 1, 2013. To find your Exchange, start at If you don’t have access to the Internet, ask for help at your local public library.

For more detailed information about health-care reform and about purchasing health insurance, see the section “Getting Health Care” at

About the Author

Livia Bardin, MSW, is Book Review Editor of ICSA Today.