How does the Affordable Care Act affect your employer's plan? What you need to know about Obamacare

A lot of folks are able to get insurance through their employer.

But now that the Affordable Care Act has kicked in, you need to make sure your plan from work is qualified under the new rules, so you're not penalized come tax time.

After their son, Sampson, was born a year and a half ago, his parents', April and Craig Norred, feelings about insurance grew stronger.

"Before him, insurance was nice, but it wasn't particularly all that necessary, but now I have to have insurance for him, that's really my main thing, I want him to have insurance," said Craig.

Craig just started a new job and can get insurance through his employer or he and April can go through a newly formed insurance exchange or marketplace.

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act with FAQs, our subsidy calculator, a state-by-state comparison and more at www.kjrh.com/aca

They're interested in finding out more about the federal tax credits available through the marketplace to help pay for insurance, based on a sliding scale, depending on income and other factors.

So Craig and April plan to shop around.

"I have to find the best deal and do what works for us," said Craig.

He says his employer's plan sounds tempting since the company will pay part of the monthly premiums.

So first, experts say people like Craig need to find out if their employer's plan is qualified under the new rules, so his family doesn't face a penalty.

First of all, Dave Shirley, with BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, says the employer plan must be affordable.

"And affordable to an employee would be whether they're paying more than nine and a half percent of their income for the premiums of that plan," said Shirley.

Besides affordability, Shirley says the plan must meet a minimum value standard.

The yearly total out of pocket you'll be responsible to pay can't be more than $6,350 per individual, or $12,700 per family.

So be sure, Shirley says, to check with your HR department well before Jan. 1, just in case your employer's plan doesn't qualify.

"They can go to the marketplace, shop for a plan, and possibly get a premium tax credit."

As for shopping around, if your employer's plan is qualified, but you still decide to go through the marketplace instead, Dave Shirley says there's something critical you'll want to know.

"If they are offered an affordable plan, that is qualified, that meets that minimum value, they may not be eligible for those premium tax credits that are out on the marketplace."

Craig and April says it's a lot to think about and a lot to study.

They're taking their decision about medical insurance seriously, to help make sure Sampson grows healthy and strong.

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