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Deadline for affordable health care open enrollment is fast approaching

By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

With less than two weeks until the open enrollment period through the Health Insurance Marketplace closes, individuals and their families have until Monday, March 31 to find a health insurance plan that fits them under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

In addition to being without health insurance without any way to obtain it until 2015, those who miss the March 31 deadline will also face an income tax penalty. According to Yahoo! Finance, households who let the deadline pass will have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child until they are properly insured.

Uninsured households could pay up to a maximum of $285 per family, or one percent of their annual income, whichever is greater. That penalty will increase for the subsequent years that an individual or family goes without health insurance.

By 2016, the penalty for uninsured households will be 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group based in Washington, has a penalty calculator available on their website to help individuals and their families figure out the annual cost for going without insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

As the federal government is in charge of handling the state’s healthcare exchange, so Virginians will need to sign up for coverage through the government’s website, www.healthcare.gov. The site is meant to ease the enrollment process by allowing users to compare plans and options, as well as answering questions.

Unemployed individuals may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or lower costs based on income. The same rule can apply for those who fall in the low-income range, as coverage eligibility and options are dictated by household size and income, rather than employment status.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans can no longer refuse coverage or charge more because of pre-existing conditions. Coverage for children is mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, and adult children can be added or kept on a family plan until they turn 26 years old.

No employer is required to offer coverage under the affordable care act. Those who own a small business could qualify for a health care tax credit worth up to 50 percent of their premium costs, according to healthcare.gov.

Various insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace have different policies regarding which doctors an insured individual can have. Depending on the type of policy one has, an individual may only be covered when they receive care from a network provider.

Those who are retired can find out if they are eligible for Medicaid through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Those who are already covered by Medicaid are not required to buy a health plan, and the same rule applies for those who have Medicare.

For more information and to sign up for a plan, visit www.healthcare.gov. Individuals who are curious about tax penalties with the absence of health insurance can use the Tax Policy Center’s penalty calculator at taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/acacalculator.cfm.

Comments

comments

4 Responses to Deadline for affordable health care open enrollment is fast approaching

  1. Linda

    March 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Or the family could work for Pulaski County Schools and pay $800 a month for a family policy. I wonder why the central office administration can’t negotiate a better deal with Blue Cross / Blue Shield? Is it possible that someone’s pocket is being filled at the expense of their employees? Something to think about!

    • Va Girl

      March 19, 2014 at 9:50 am

      I’d no idea the county employees paid so much. Maybe Obamacare would be a little cheaper, but likely not as good coverage with as many choices on doctors, etc.

      BTW, I did the calculator online for “affordable health care”. Found my premium would jump almost $300 per month. Not only that, but the figure I’d pay is without the dental/vision insurance I have with my company now.

  2. concerned

    March 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Most teachers would not be able to get obamacare b/c they wouldn’t qualify b/c of their earnings. It would depend on the total household income and how many people live in that household.

    The theory is that there will be more people carrying insurance so everyone’s premiums should go down (especially if you are in a group plan. However, in reality, insurance companies are private industries and have figured out approximately how much people will pay before they really shop around and look for better coverage. School systems normally get screwed. For example, the employee pays $800+ out of his/her pocket for coverage and the school system throws in an additional $500+ (that’s $1,300 a month) and you can shop on your own for coverage and spend less. According to the theory that has been sold to the American people, that should be impossible since school systems are in a group plan.

    Let me be the first to say that this isn’t just an Obamacare problem, this is a health care gouging the American people problem that has been going on for decades.

    • Va Girl

      March 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Well, today this is a subject on which we agree!

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