Frequently Asked Questions

I already have health insurance—what’s in it for me?

Because of the Affordable Care Act, not only will millions more Americans have access to healthcare coverage for the first time, but the rest of us will see improvements in our own coverage as well. Insurance companies can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, there are no lifetime or annual caps on insurance, kids can stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26 years old, and for many plans, many preventive services are now free. The law also makes sure that insurance companies are actually spending your premium dollars on healthcare and not on CEO bonuses. If insurers don’t meet requirements, they have to give you a refund. We all will benefit from the law, whether you have insurance already or not.

I heard I’m going to have to pay more in taxes.

There is a lot of confusion out there about taxes and the ACA. The truth is, most Americans won’t see their tax bill increase as a result. People who make over $200,000 a year will pay more in Medicare taxes, and people who don’t buy health insurance will be charged a penalty; that’s because the best way to make sure healthcare is really for all is to make sure everyone is participating and paying their fair share.

I heard that I won’t be able to choose my own doctor anymore.

That’s not true. Opponents of the law are trying to confuse and distract people from the reality of the law to keep people from getting health insurance. The truth is that if you have coverage available at work, not much changes except that your benefits get better. If you are buying in the marketplace you can compare insurance plans and pick the one that is best for you—including the one that includes your doctor.

I don’t think it’s fair that I have to pay a fine if I don’t have health insurance.

Part of the way the law is set up is that everyone has to participate in order for it to work. Right now we all pay a hidden tax of about $1,100 a year for uninsured people who get their healthcare in the emergency room. For 2014, the penalty for people who go uninsured is 1% of income or $95, whichever is greater. The penalty amounts increase substantially in future years. And there’s no penalty if the only insurance available costs over 8% of your family income, or for low-income folks who live in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid yet (New York is not one of those).

The union should focus on our contracts and grievances, not on the ACA.

Year after year in our contract negotiations we are told the cost of healthcare is going up so we have to forgo raises. The Affordable Care Act puts systems in place that are lowering the amount of healthcare cost increases, which will help us get raises in the future. Because the law includes some basic protections we used to have to bargain for, we will be able to focus our attention on other important issues at the bargaining table.

Also, we get told that hospitals need to cut back because of all of the people who don’t pay. Getting everyone covered is going to be good for our hospitals because there will be more patients able to pay for care.

SEIU has a strong history of fighting for rights for all people, whether they are in the union or not. We fought for this law for more than 20 years because no matter who you are, where you work or what you do for a living, everyone in this country should be able to see a doctor, afford life-saving medications and control their own healthcare.

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