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!
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.
While many clients and friends have now signed up for coverage for 2015 many more are still dealing with the idea that their Blue Cross or Aetna coverage was terminated and they haven't found replacement coverage. We can help you review the universe of health insurance options and determine which plans would be best for your family. Contact Us today for quotes and analysis.
For years, Texas Health Design has educated clients to ensure that when they need coverage, they know exactly what to expect and what steps to take to ensure that they don't run into problems getting claims paid. We often hear from new clients that their past experiences with health insurance companies have been terrible and we feel strongly that many of their issues result from a lack of understanding of their specific policy and a broader knowledge of "how things work" with insurance. After working with insurance companies for more than a decade, we've seen random, crazy, and illogical denials, but more often, we see issues where clients fail to take simple steps to avoid problems. The goal of this brief post is to ensure that we know basic steps to get the most out of our coverage.
You may have missed the deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage that will begin 1/1/2015, but all is not lost. There still may be an opportunity for you to add coverage in the next few days as there are special circumstances that will permit you to buy coverage if you meet several criteria. We wanted to highlight a few key "secrets" we've seen this year that you need to know that may help you get coverage or at least avoid trouble in 2015.
The deadline to apply for health insurance coverage that will become effective January 1, 2015 is quickly approaching. In order to obtain a plan that begins 1/1/15 you must sign up for an insurance plan by December 15th. As our phone volumes have increased as we rush toward the application deadline we're meeting more clients and shoppers that are unclear how to obtain subsidies and how to apply.
I think all of us fall into the trap of believing that every product or service can be commoditized and packaged into an easy to understand, easy to purchase widget where price is the only consideration. The internet has been wonderful in the sense that we can now easily compare prices and read reviews and buy from the comfort of our living room while watching television and taking a phone call. Unfortunately, we've seen in the last several weeks several instances that have reminded us that easy price searches are not enough and health insurance is not a commodity. Health insurance shoppers need better tools to examine plan choices and must be able to rely on an expert source to answer specific questions that apply to their situation. The reality is that our busy lives don't have room for carving out hours to research health plans on our own or determining whether a doctor is in one network or another. When we do take time to shop for health coverage during this open enrollment period, insurance shoppers want to ensure they get quick responses, comprehensive information, and answers to specific personal questions.
It seems as though the days are flying by and the Open Enrollment Period is slipping by quickly. Insurance shoppers that desire to have coverage that is effective on January 1st of 2015 only have about 19 days left to obtain their coverage. Yes, if you miss the 12/15/14 deadline you'll still be able to buy coverage for the 2015 calendar year, but your coverage will start at the beginning of February! There is a significant price for procrastination in this new health insurance shopping environment, so don't put off this important decision.
Top 5 Questions About Health Insurance in 2015
I have received 5 or 6 questions consistently over the last month and I felt like they deserved to be highlighted as an article in our Texas Health Insurance Blog. Let's dive in and we'll review these common questions and ensure we've documented the answers. Remember, these are our opinions and each client and shopper's situation is different. Make sure to call us at 713-422-2935 and we'll help you discern the best approach for your unique set of circumstances.