You know that dream where you’re in math class and it’s test day? You haven’t gone to class all year long and you’re totally unprepared. Oh, the panic that ensues! Then, you wake up in a cold sweat and all is well.
But, is it well with your health insurance plan?
To help answer that question, we turned to our friend and insurance expert, Tanya Boyd. She has over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. She works with individuals and employers, and has a passion to educate consumers on all of their options, starting with plans that save money without compromising benefits.
She’s had the math class nightmare in real life! “In my twenties, I saved up for a trip to the Bahamas. On departure day, I overslept and missed the time. Ugh! While we all mess up at times, we have to get over it - learn from those life lessons, and pay attention to deadlines and laws!”
Tanya answers 8 Affordable Care Act (ACA - or as you may know it, Obamacare) deadline FAQs to ensure you don’t miss the boat…
Q1: What’s the deadline?
A: If you don’t have health insurance, you have until Sunday, 2/15 to get a plan in place to start 3/1.
Q2: Why is there a deadline?
A: The ACA is a law that requires most Americans to have a qualified health insurance plan in place by March 1, 2015 or pay a fine. If there wasn’t an official deadline, people would wait until they got sick or needed care. Then they’d sign up and that would be a mess for everyone!
Q3: What’s the fine?
A: The 2015 penalty for not having insurance has increased from 1% in 2014 to 2% of your entire household income - even if one person in your house is not covered! For those math haters out there: your fine would be $2,000 if your annual family income is $100,000. By the way, the penalty will continue to increase every year...for the next few years.
Q4: What if I miss the deadline?
A: You’ll have to wait until January 2016 to obtain insurance. Oh, and watch out when you pay your taxes – that’s when the fine comes! Better start saving now.
Q5: Why wouldn’t I wait until I need it to buy it?
A: That’s not an option. If you skip the enrollment period this year, you’ve missed your chance to get health insurance coverage and you’ll be paying your own medical bills until January 2016 when the window opens up again. Note that there are certain Special Enrollment Events that allow you to get coverage during the year, like involuntarily losing coverage (i.e. changing jobs), getting married, or having a baby. But do you really want to have a baby to get insured? EEK! Insurance is cheaper than babies. Trust me.
Q6: What if I just can’t afford it?
A: You may be eligible for aid (subsidy or cost-sharing) based on your family size and income. Click here to
see estimates of health insurance premiums and subsidies based on your income and family.
Q7: How do I get help to figure it out?
It can be a little confusing! Use a licensed broker who can help you choose a plan that’s right for you. They can also help determine if you qualify for aid. It does NOT cost more to work with a broker. A broker is a licensed professional whose job is to help you find the best plan, to guide you and be your advocate. Insurance brokers get paid commission from the insurance company. Not from you. Click here to find a professional near you!
Q8: What if I sign up for a plan that I hate, can I change it?
A: Yes, but not until next year at open enrollment (which is another good reason to work with a professional licensed broker). But, if you were sold a plan that was clearly misrepresented (i.e. there are no providers near you), exceptions can sometimes be made to move to a better-suited plan. You’ll most likely need the help of a professional broker for this battle.
You certainly don’t want to wake up from a bad dream only to find yourself in a real-life hospital bed without insurance. While it’s important to pay attention to deadlines and laws, having health insurance also brings peace of mind for your family.
Now it’s your turn! Have you signed up for a plan yet? Did you use a broker? What was your experience? Are you going to pay the fine?