April 30th will mark the end of the last Special Election Period that allowed citizens to extend the time to purchase health insurance in 2015. This specific election period was approved by CMS and made available to people that never bought health insurance in 2014 and discovered that they would owe a penalty for the 2014 tax year.
In a world where you are told that procrastination is terrible and there are bad life consequences for missing deadlines, CMS, our government health administrator, has decreed that folks that waited past the deadline to purchase health insurance for 2015 will get one more shot at signing up!
I wanted to highlight several key developments this week as clients and new friends are finding that they haven't fully understood the implications of the financial subsidies they received from the Marketplace and Obamacare. Over the last few days we've heard from clients that have received 1095-A Forms which show how much they received in subsidies from the US Government and they are now wonder what they need to do with their forms and what they mean.
With only 4 days left in the 2015 Open Enrollment cycle the pace of calls into our offices has increased dramatically. New clients and old friends that have never emailed or called us back suddenly want to talk about health insurance! In order to help you in the final stressful days we wanted to provide you some key pieces of information to help you get your enrollment completed and finish this Open Enrollment marathon!
Call volumes are increasing as we get to the last few days of the 2015 Open Enrollment season. I wanted to provide a few answers to questions we are receiving and wanted to put them in one post. Can you believe that January is already in the rear view mirror? We've had several great calls this week and all of them have common themes. I spoke quite a bit about taxation and the impact changes of income will have on subsidies in last week's post. If you have questions about these items, please refer to Taxing Questions for 2015. Let's dive in!
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.
Recently a fellow health insurance broker and I had a discussion about health insurance premiums and how they are increasing at a rate that will doom the industry in just a few years. We lamented about rising deductibles and ever increasing costs and smaller physician networks. We even ventured into the realm of taxation and how higher income earners will certainly be asked to carry a larger burden in the future. Our howling about how bad things have gotten and how they were better in the old days, ok, just a decade ago, led us to a simple question about the deductibility of health insurance premiums and whether individuals and families could write off their health insurance premiums from their taxes. Since we both had different opinions and we've both been selling health insurance for more than 10 years it is clear that clients need clarification and answers on this important subject. Remember, I'm not a tax preparer or accountant, so these are general rules and you'll need to investigate whether they apply to your situation. Consult your own tax advisor.
The healthcare system is now at a breaking point. The ACA or Affordable Care Act is proving it is now created a situation that is unaffordable. Clients have been pushed into situations where they must make tough decisions as they are now unwilling or unable to make premium payments for plans they feel are too expensive or simply lack enough benefits for the cost. Many clients express what we've discussed for some time now that premiums are more than double what they used to pay and their deductibles are twice as high as well. Finally, because the expense is so high, many are trapped in plans that offer no benefits other than catastrophic coverage at a very high price. The truth is these clients are frustrated and searching for alternatives to their real financial problems. In the last month, Texas Health Design has had conversations about Short Term Health Insurance with more frequency and it is important to describe the benefits, limitations, and potential nasty pitfalls of this approach.
We've hit January and the time has come for many of us to turn our attention to a subject we often dread, taxes. This tax season many of us will face new filing requirements or even receive new forms in order to remain in good standing with the government. In this post we'll quickly summarize the items you'll need to look and that you'll encounter as we head toward April 15th.
I had several clients and new friends call frantically on the January 1st as they realized that their time to elect a new health plan to replace their terminated Blue Cross plan had passed. While they had almost 45 days to get these tasks completed, it isn't much of a secret that we all wish we could put off dealing with a health insurance search forever. Unfortunately, we now have a new addition to the proverbial saying, "We can't put off death and taxes", we can now make it, "We can't put off death, taxes, or enrollment in an Affordable Care Act plan". If you missed the January first deadline there is still hope.