Health Insurance Open Enrollment is coming November 15!
“What do you mean I can’t buy health insurance?” is a question I’ve heard all too often this last year. Not everyone is tuned in to the initial implementation and, what seem to be, day-to-day changes the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) has imposed over the last few years. For many families the Affordable Care Act doesn’t affect them directly as they are provided or given the opportunity to purchase Health Insurance through their employer’s group benefits program (thanks, boss!). But what about those who do not receive this benefit? Individuals who are self-employed, or work for a small business who does not provide benefits? Those who have come across hard times, or maybe those who retired early and aren’t yet eligible for Medicare? As of March 31, 2014 all individuals are mandated to either qualify for an exemption or have health insurance which meets certain minimum essential coverage criteria in order to avoid a financial penalty imposed by the US government.
If you did not purchase insurance before March 31, 2014 you will find upon contacting your local agent that you are unable to purchase health insurance until the next open enrollment period unless you have what is called a qualifying life event. These are things like a marriage or divorce, an adoption or birth, loss of coverage, relocation out of state, or changing of jobs. However, you must act quickly as with most qualifying events you have 60 days from the date of the event to purchase coverage. Carriers will also request proof of said qualifying event.
The year 2014 was the first year of the ‘individual mandate’ discussed above. To ensure the word had gotten out and to handle the volume and challenges that this brought, Open Enrollment was extended by a month and half for the 2014 year to ensure that all were accommodated. For the quickly approaching 2015, the Open Enrollment period will begin on November 15 and end on February 15. For 2016 and beyond, Open Enrollment will be the same as the Medicare open enrollment period which is October 15 th though December 7th for the following coverage year.
If you did not, or continue to choose not to purchase Health Insurance, you are responsible for the entirety of any medical expenses you incur plus the penalty imposed for not having insurance. Your penalty for 2014 would be the greater of the following two calculation methods:
· 1% of your yearly household income, not to exceed the national average for a ‘bronze level plan’, which is to be determined, OR,
· $95 per uninsured person and $47.50 per uninsured child in your household with a cap of $285
Now, that might not hurt quite as bad as you may have expected but the penalty will increase every year. For instance, in 2015, it will be 2% of your income or $325 per person, and in 2016, 2.5% of income or $695 per person. Ouch. These penalties will be assessed on your annual tax return where it will be withheld from any return you might receive or added to any tax bill due. As if April 15 wasn’t already fun enough!
Regardless of your feelings about the Affordable Care Act, all of this can be avoided and you can have peace of mind knowing your family is covered by purchasing coverage for your family. All Affordable Care Act compliant health insurance plans now impose no lifetime or annual limits of coverage and most preventative care procedures are covered with no additional cost to you. See your physician for regular wellness checks and improve yours and your family’s health and quality of life.
Open enrollment for 2015 coverage begins on November 15, 2014. Contact your Financial Services Department at Boyd Insurance & Investment Services to receive a personalized consult to see what Health Insurance plan is best for you and yours. We can guide you through to see if you qualify for financial assistance with your health plan, help you find a plan within your budget, or find a plan with the level of coverage you need for your specific medical conditions. Whatever your needs, we are ready and equipped to fulfill them. Don’t wait! Contact us now so that we might begin the discussion and be ready to have your coverage in place on January 1st giving you a healthy and happy start to the New Year.
We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your family.
This blog is intended to raise awareness of the above issue and is not intended to be used as individual advice on any subject. Every situation should be handled on an individual basis by a licensed professional. Please contact our office to speak with an Account Executive for more information.