Q:

What should you know about free health care through Obamacare?

A:

Quick Answer

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid to provide free or very low-cost health insurance to low-income adults under the age of 65. People who earn no more than 133 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the expanded coverage, regardless of whether they have children, explains the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, 19 states have not implemented the expansion as of September 2015, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Full Answer

Although the federal government mandates certain portions of Medicaid coverage, individual states determine the extent of benefits patients receive, explains the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Federally mandated benefits include inpatient and outpatient hospital care, physician visits, laboratory and X-ray services, family planning and transportation to medical care. Some aspects of women's health care, such as tobacco cessation for pregnant women, nurse-midwife services and freestanding birthing centers, are also mandatory under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid's Children's Health Insurance Program provides similar benefits, including mandatory preventive health care screenings, to children under the age of 21.

In addition to providing free or nearly free health insurance for low-income Americans, the Affordable Care Act provides tax subsidies that are often sufficient to cover the cost of the least-expensive insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, according to a 2013 CBS News report. For example, an individual who earns no more than $28,725 per year is eligible for a subsidy that covers the entire cost of a bronze plan, so his coverage is essentially free. Bronze plans, however, do not cover vision or dental care and typically carry higher deductibles,co-pays and out-of-pocket amounts, so the overall cost is sometimes higher than it appears.

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