We have a guest blogger today…my sister! She is a professional health insurance broker so I talked her into sharing the details of today’s health insurance changes. This topic is near to my heart since I am a contractor without group health insurance. Here is the overview from my sister:
Well, it is finally here, October 1, 2013. This is the first day that you can enroll in Obamacare, AKA The Affordable Care Act (ACA) for a January 1, 2014 effective date of coverage. The ACA includes several provisions to extend greater access to health insurance benefits, to more people.
Beginning in 2014, most Americans are required to purchase a minimum amount of health insurance or incur additional taxation by the IRS. The 2014 tax penalty for not carrying the minimum amount of health insurance is $95 or 1% of taxable income (whichever is greater). In 2015 it is the greater of $325 or 2% of taxable income. In 2016 it is the greater of $695 or 2.5% of taxable income.
There will be 5 Levels of Coverage available in 2014. The plans are referred to as “Metal Plans” or “Metallic Plans.” Each plan offers a different percentage that the plan will pay toward healthcare expenses. The Metal Plans are: Bronze (60% coverage), Silver (70% coverage), Gold (80% coverage), and Platinum (90% coverage). There is 1 additional plan that is available to individuals under the age of 30 or individuals who do not have an affordable coverage option or whom qualify for a hardship exemption.
I am an advocate of using an insurance broker who is licensed and certified to sell insurance plans to you through an insurance carrier. An insurance broker can explain all plans available and assist in enrollment. A broker will be able to determine if you are eligible for a Premium Tax Credit and a Cost Sharing Reduction (Subsidy).
One of the most important features of the ACA is that everyone is “Guarantee Issue,” which means that the insurance carriers CANNOT decline you coverage, increase your rates, or place exclusion riders on pre-existing medical conditions. Premiums will solely be based on: family status, age, geographic area, and tobacco use.
This is just a brief overview of The Affordable Care Act, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. I will be available all week to answer your questions!