A few months ago, a report said 42% of Americans were not aware that Obamacare was still a law. I’m not a big news person, but I can’t imagine anyone being unaware based on all the press coverage lately!
Even though there’s concern over the website and the details of the law - it’s still the law. And you may have some things to do to comply with the law. Do you know what those are?
We’ll start with a refresher of the basics and then give a few good next steps depending on your situation. However, if you read nothing in this article, just know that our best advice is to GET A BROKER who can help you navigate through it!
The ACA basics
• ACA = Affordable Care Act (or more familiarly, Obamacare)
• You MUST have minimum-qualified insurance by 1/1/14
• If you don’t, individuals will be fined 1% of annual income - that’s $600 if you’re making $60,000 a year (family fines are higher). While that may not seem like a lot, the fine increases over the next couple years to the point where it’ll be cheaper to get insurance than to pay the fine.
• You can’t wait to get sick and then get insurance. You can only get insurance during special enrollment periods. If you miss yours, get ready to pay out of pocket for that accident or those cancer treatments.
• You won’t be charged more for insurance if you have a pre-existing condition.
• Men and women will be charged the same price. Older people will typically pay less than today and younger people will likely pay more than today.
• Young people have the option to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and buy low-cost catastrophic plans until the age of 30.
If you get your insurance through an employer
You can pretty much ignore all the news and Obamacare hoopla! Although you may be paying more, your employer is taking care of ensuring your plan is ACA compliant. And, they’re probably absorbing some of the cost increases, so you should thank them!
If you don’t get insurance through an employer, do you qualify for a subsidy?
There will be subsidies for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level. For example, that’s a family of 3 earning $78,120/year. What does that mean? Basically, if you’re earning below that level, the government will help pay for your monthly insurance premiums. Click here to see what your subsidy could be.
If you DON’T qualify for a subsidy
Find a good health insurance broker to help you wade through the decision of which plan you should buy. If you don’t know one, click here for a list of quality, licensed brokers in your area.
They’ll ask all the pertinent questions and point you in the right direction. You don’t pay more for their expertise – the health insurance company whose policy you choose will pay your broker a commission.
If you DO qualify for a subsidy
Again, find a good health insurance broker because you pay the same rate with or without one (to find a good one, see link above). To receive your subsidy, you have to purchase your policy through the Exchange (or Obamacare website: www.healthcare.gov). In an earlier article, we told you to wait until the website kinks were worked out - looks like that was good advice. An agent can help you pick the best plan and will help speed through your application on the site, so get help!
Now it’s your turn! What have your experiences been? Have you already found a good broker to help you through it? Have you tried the Exchange on your own?