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Opinion
Megan McArdle

Four Things We Think We Know About Obamacare

I’ve been seeing a few things floating around the blogosphere about Obamacare that aren’t true. 

I've been seeing a few things floating around the blogosphere about Obamacare that aren't true. They're not really conservative or liberal talking points; they're just misconceptions that people may have about how the health-care law works. So it seems worth pointing them out, especially because relying on some of these "facts" could get you into big trouble:

You have until March 31 to buy health insurance. This is technically true: Open enrollment ends on March 31. So you can buy health insurance up until then. But you have to buy insurance well before that if you want to avoid paying the mandate's penalty. Basically, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says that in order to avoid paying the fine for being uninsured, you have to be insured by the end of March. But insurance policies begin on the first day of the month, which means that you need to buy insurance by February. And because it takes a couple of weeks to process a policy, in practice, you need to purchase by Feb. 15. If you buy insurance after that, you will still be insured -- but you will also need to pay a penalty. Which brings me to my second untrue "fact":