2014 is here and that means the mandate to purchase health insurance is now the law of the land. The Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, is perhaps the most controversial legislation to ever come out of Washington. The politics of the ACA continue to dominate the news headlines. And the botched roll-out of the Exchanges have given late night shows plenty of comedic material. Most Americans, however, continue to have health insurance questions and at Safeguard Insurance we have the answers.
The Affordable Care Act consists of around 2500 pages of regulations, opinions, rules and guidelines. It is a comprehensive renovation of our health care system. While the merits of the law will likely be debated for decades, it is important for consumers to understand some of the basic changes that affect them.
Are health insurance premiums going up?
The short answer is yes, for most people health insurance rates are increasing, at least in the short run. There are many reasons prices are increasing but better plan benefits mandated by the ACA is the primary factor. If some of the assumptions of the ACA work out, such as a larger pool of insureds, rates may begin to fall over time.
What are the health Exchanges?
The Exchanges are online marketplaces where consumers or insurance professionals can apply for health insurance plans. Health insurance companies participate on the exchanges on a voluntary basis. Health insurance premium subsidies are only available by applying for coverage via a State or Federal Exchange.
How do I qualify for a health insurance subsidy?
Premium subsidies are actually a tax credit that is applied immediately against the cost of your health insurance. Household income determines whether you qualify for the tax credit. Visit this link at healthcare.gov to see whether you might qualify for a subsidy. You can also visit the Kaiser Family Foundation and try a free subsidy calculator.
My employer provides health insurance. Can I still qualify for a subsidy?
Unless your employers plan does not meet minimum standards, or your health insurance costs exceed 9.5% of your income, the answer is probably no, you will not qualify for an subsidy. Visit this page at healthcare.gov for additional information.
Are “traditional” health insurance plans gone?
No! The Affordable Care Act did not eliminate the private or “traditional” health insurance market. In fact just the opposite is true. The ACA has expanded availability of private health insurance to consumers that might otherwise be uninsurable. Health insurance plans must now meet minimum coverage standards and that has change has resulted in some older plans being phased out. New plans that are ACA compliant can be purchased on the Exchange or directly from the insurance carrier or agent. If you do not qualify for a subsidy, you will likely find more plan options and potentially better pricing by shopping off the insurance Exchange.
Do I have to buy health insurance?
The answer to this is a bit more complicated than just yes or no. No one is going to show up at your door and force you buy health insurance. However, part of the ACA is a provision that requires every person in the United States to be covered by a qualified health insurance plan (including employer provided coverage, medicaid, medicare, CHIP, Tricare or VA). This required has been called the “individual mandate”. If you choose not to purchase health insurance you will be assessed a fine. For 2014 the fine is 1% of your household income or $95 per person, whichever is greater. For 2015 the fine is 2% of income or $325; for 2016 the fine is 2.5% or $695. For many individuals, the fine this year may not be enough to induce them to purchase health insurance. In later years, however, consumers may decide it is cost effective to purchase health insurance.
Can you help me sign up for health insurance coverage?
Absolutely! Our agents are trained and authorized to help you obtain health insurance from the Exchange or the traditional health insurance market.
Call us at (702) 638-0022 or visit our health insurance product page to obtain an instant quote.