Locked Out or Locked In - 18 Days Until Open Enrollment Ends
There are only 18 days left until your opportunity to obtain health insurance is gone for the remainder of 2015. "What? Is that correct?" you say? Yes, the end of Open Enrollment will lock you into a health insurance plan for the rest of the calendar year or lock you out of a qualified health plan until January of 2016.
Get In or Get Locked Out!
So what does it mean that you are locked out of a qualified health plan? The Affordable Care Act creates time frames when you can apply for new coverage or switch out of old coverage into a new plan called Open Enrollment periods. Currently, this year's Open Enrollment period spans from November 15th 2014 to February 15th 2015. You must enroll in a new plan and pay for the premium to ensure you have coverage prior to the 15th of February. If you haven't selected a plan and completed an application by the 15th, you cannot purchase an Affordable Care Act policy till next year!
If You're In - You're Locked In!
That's right, once you make your selection and completed your application, you cannot change your health insurance plan. You are locked into that plan for the remainder of the calendar year. If you don't like your plan or feel like it isn't a good fit for you and your family, unfortunately, you are stuck. For this reason we really want to make sure our clients review the physician and hospital networks to ensure you have the networks that will serve you during the year. Don't expect Blue Cross, Humana, or the Marketplace to help you evaluate the differences between plans or compare different carriers, they aren't trained to do much beyond taking an order. Please click the Contact Us link here and we'll make sure you know what you are buying and help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each plan.
What Happens If You Miss The Deadline? - The Special Election Period
If you miss the deadline to sign up for coverage you may still have an opportunity to sign up if you qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP). The SEP allows you to have an exemption to apply and obtain coverage, but you must qualify by having certain events apply. You could move to a new state or area, you could adopt or have the birth of a child, you could lose qualified health coverage through your employer, and a few other triggering events. If any of these events occur you may change existing health plans or apply for new coverage. We can help you determine if you are eligible for a Special Election Period, simply call us today at 713-422-2935.
Tax Penalties Await You If You Miss The Open Enrollment Deadline
Unfortunately, procrastination will cost you double this year! In 2014 the penalty for not obtaining health insurance was just 1% of your household income. In 2015, the tax penalty will double to 2% of household income. This may not be a big deal to many, but we talk to clients all the time that make $200,000 or even $300,000 a year. A 2% penalty at $300,000 of income equates to nearly $6,000 in tax penalties! Depending on family size and other family demographics, that $6,000 might be better spent buying a health plan. If you have any questions about the penalty, call us, we'll help you make sense of the "Share Responsibility" tax. Our number is 713-422-2935.