Open Enrollment Starts November 1!

open-enrollmentThe Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it’s commonly known, brought many changes to the way Americans buy their health insurance. The greatest change is that for most of the year, Americans actually can’t buy health insurance. They have to wait until the Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which starts November 1 and ends January 31.

If you’re a person  who doesn’t currently have coverage, then you definitely need to use this time to see what’s out there. The federal government is raising the penalty for not having health insurance in 2016. If you don’t get coverage during OEP, you won’t have another chance until the 2016 OEP, and if you go more than 3 months without having health insurance, you’ll pay a penalty – either 2.5% of your household income, or $695/adult and $347.50 per child in your household, whichever is higher.

Clearly, the government’s not kidding around about penalizing you for not having health insurance.

If you’ve already got health insurance, you may think you’ll just let things ride through the OEP and keep what you’ve got without looking at your options. Because let’s face it – health insurance is likely one of those things you’d rather not think too much about.

But I’d submit to you that even if you have coverage and it’s working OK for you, you need to use the next couple of weeks to at least look at your options. Here are some great reasons why:

Your subsidy amount may change – The amount of money the government gives you to help pay your insurance premiums is based on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI. This figure comes from your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), which is on your tax return, and will obviously change if your income goes up or down, or if any of the deductions that are added back to the AGI to get the MAGI change.

If your MAGI is lower than last year, you’ll qualify for a larger subsidy. Obviously, the reverse is true as well. So you may be able to afford a better plan, or you may need to look for something less expensive, or with fewer out-of-pocket costs.

We can help you figure out what your subsidy will be, and help you find coverage that maximizes your benefits based on what you can pay.

Your plan may have a rate increase – Over the next few weeks, many Coloradoans will start hearing from their health insurance carriers regarding rate changes. Unfortunately, based on what I’ve heard, I seriously doubt that anyone will find out their premiums are going down.

If your premiums increase, remember this: you’re going to be stuck with that plan for the next year. I’ve been in the insurance business long enough to remember when I could help people find new coverage at any time of the year if they had a rate increase, but those days are over.

Consider signing up for an insurance plan with a Health Savings Account – If your current plan does not allow you to open a Health Savings Account (HSA), you really should consider a plan that does. Why? Because the benefits of opening an HSA are really extraordinary. These accounts allow you to make contributions into them tax-free. The money grows tax-free, and if you use the money for qualified medical expenses, such as paying the deductible on your health insurance plan, you won’t pay taxes or penalties when you withdraw money.

The fact is that in an effort to control costs, insurance companies are raising deductibles. If you don’t have some money put aside, you may have trouble covering yours, should you need it. An HSA is an integral tool in your financial toolbox.

Some plans are terminating at the end of 2015 – If this is happening to your plan, you should have heard about it by now. Obviously, you’ll have to secure a different plan for you and your family before 2016 if this applies to your coverage.

Let’s talk about deadlines. True, you have until January 31 to sign up for a new plan. However, you need to get your application submitted no later than December 15 so that your new plan can be effective by January 1. Many of our Personal Benefits Consultants (PBC) already have completely full calendars for the first three weeks of November. So call us, or email your PBC if you’re already working with us, and set up a time to review your individual situation. We’re here to help make this time as productive and stress-free as possible for you.

  Date posted: Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Category: Health Care, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance

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