NCHealthPlans.com Health News » Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Home  |  About Us  |  Terms of Use  |  Contact  

Jerry Ballard & Associates, Inc.
Local: 252-726-5400
Toll Free: 888-765-5400


A name you can trust, an agent you can count on.
Serving North Carolina residents since 1974.

NC Health Plans
Temporary Health Insurance
Term Life Insurance Dental Insurance Student Health Insurance  

Archive for the ‘Affordable Care Act (ACA)’ Category

History of the Affordable Care Act

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Affordable Care Act SignIt has now been 5 years since President Barack Obama signed into law what is officially called The Affordable Care Act (ACA), but often referred to as Obamacare.  All of us have heard of it and most of us have felt its effects in one way or another, but because of the complexity of the law, many Americans still have questions.  (more…)

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Get BCBSNC Insurance during SEP – Federal Marketplace Extends List of Qualifying Life Events

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Health InsuranceBy now, most Americans are aware of the changes instituted by the Affordable Care Act and the impact this law has had on health insurance.  Terms like “premium tax credit,” “federal subsidy,” “Health Insurance Marketplace,” and “individual mandate,” however, are still often unfamiliar to consumers now navigating a system reorganized under completely different criteria and governed by federal law.  Understanding the new terminology is paramount in understanding much of what constitutes the Affordable Care Act and is a key part of being able to successfully choose, enroll and manage a health insurance policy.

That being said, perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of the Affordable Care Act is the Special Enrollment Period and why you must have a Qualifying Life Event in order to enroll in health coverage.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act, consumers had the benefit of enrolling in individual health insurance or making changes to their existing policies at any time during the year.  On the flip side, insurers had the right to practice medical underwriting and charge more for, or deny coverage to, consumers who had serious or preexisting health conditions.  Under the new law, these conditions have changed.  Insurers may no longer ask consumers any health questions (with the exception of whether or not you are a smoker) and no consumer can be denied health insurance based on a preexisting condition; however, consumers may not enroll or make changes to their health policies whenever they choose, but are now subject to the rules of Open Enrollment, Special Enrollment and Qualifying Life Events (QLE’s).

For 2015, Open Enrollment will begin November 1st and end January 31st.  During Open Enrollment, you may purchase health insurance or make changes to your current policy for any reason.  Currently, however, we are in the Special Enrollment period, which means consumers are required by law to have a Qualifying Life Event in order to purchase insurance.  A Qualifying Life Event is some special circumstance, such as a recent move or the loss of access to minimum essential coverage, that allows the consumer to purchase insurance outside of Open Enrollment.  Although this does limit your ability to enroll in health coverage, the good news for 2015 is that the list of Qualifying Life Events has been expanded and the Healthcare Marketplace is offering more opportunities for consumers to get insured during Special Enrollment.

In order to determine whether or not you may have a Qualifying Life Event, it is important for you to take a look at the list provided on your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health quote.  Reading the list of QLE’s will help you to determine if one of these special circumstances applies to you.  Although the process of obtaining health insurance has changed under the ACA, the expansion of these QLE’s allows you greater freedom outside of Open Enrollment to manage your current health plan or enroll a new health plan according to your life circumstances.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

 

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Still Uninsured? – What to do About Your Health Insurance Until Open Enrollment

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Enthusiastic family buying online lying down on bedAre you one of the many Americans who missed Open Enrollment 2015?  Despite your best efforts, did February 15th come and go and still you are uninsured?  Perhaps you even missed, or did not qualify for, the Special Enrollment period that was in place until April 30th for those individuals who received a tax penalty on their 2014 tax return.  If so, you are not wholly out of luck, though there are some things you should keep in mind.

Because we are now in the Special Enrollment Period, the rules regarding Qualifying Life Events are in full force.  A Qualifying Life Event (QLE) is some special circumstance in your life that allows you to enroll in health insurance outside of Open Enrollment.  As of now, the federal Marketplace has not announced any further exception to the rules of QLE’s, which simply means that you must have one in order to enroll in a health plan.  It is a good idea to review the full list of Qualifying Life Events and if you have one, or if you anticipate having one in the near future, then that will serve as your opportunity to get insured.  Keep in mind that you must complete an application for health insurance within 60 days of your Qualifying Life Event.

Another thing to note is that if you are uninsured for more than three consecutive months during 2015, you will incur a tax penalty on your next year’s tax return, unless you qualify for an exemption.  It is also a good idea to take a look at the list of exemptions and who might qualify.

Finally, keep in mind that being insured is about so much more than incurring a tax penalty.  It’s about having the coverage you need in case of a medical emergency and also about maintaining your physical and mental health through preventive care maintenance.  Further, having to pay a tax penalty is like throwing your hard earned money out the window because you get nothing in return.  On the other hand, although paying a monthly premium for health insurance may seem like a financial frustration, in the end it is money well spent.  Your most precious commodity is your health and making an investment toward it is always a smart decision.

If you are still uninsured and do not foresee having a QLE in the next few months, you may still qualify for Short Term Coverage.  Although not ideal in most circumstances and though it will not offer you the same level of benefits as an individual health plan, Short Term Coverage can be an effective way to fill in the gap between now and this year’s Open Enrollment which begins in November.  Short term coverage has some limitations and will not save you from the tax penalty in that it does not meet the Affordable Care Act’s 10 essential requirements, but it is still better than having no coverage in case of a medical emergency.

The bottom line is you do have options.  Although you may not be able to secure your first choice in health plans outside of Open Enrollment, you can be insured in the interim.  Also, this is a great time to begin doing research about the Affordable Care Act, what subsidy might be available to you and how that subsidy might affect your federal income tax.  Use this time to research the various health plans available to you and also what kind of network works best for you and your family.  Open Enrollment begins again in November, which believe it or not, is only 5 months away.  Even if you cannot obtain coverage during Special Enrollment, this is a great time to arm yourself with all the information and knowledge you will need to make the very best choice possible come Open Enrollment.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC is committed to helping the residents of North Carolina secure and maintain the health coverage you need.  For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

BCBSNC Health Insurance Premium – What Does it Pay For?

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Stacks Of Coins On  Graphs And ChartsWith all of the changes in the health insurance industry under the Affordable Care Act and an overall increase in the cost of health insurance for consumers, you may be wondering exactly what your monthly premium pays for and where all of that money goes.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is happy to answer that question.  As most people already know, your health insurance premium is part of a large pool of money collected by the insurance company, which is then distributed in the form of health care claims to those in need of medical care.  A portion of that pool of money pays for health care and a portion goes toward operating the insurance company itself and creating a profit.  The question most people have is how much of that money actually goes toward claims and how much is simply profit for the company.

Recently, BCBSNC announced that they spend almost 86 cents of every premium dollar to pay for customers’ health care needs, including visits to the doctor’s office, surgeries, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, contact lenses, etc.  In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC paid $5 billion dollars in claims in 2013 alone, making that $5 billion dollars worth of coverage directly benefiting BCBSNC customers.  In addition, there is non-medical spending that still directly affects BCBSNC members in a positive way.  Non-medical expenditures include things like customer service and technology improvements, which provide customers with the most up-to-date, user friendly website and an exceptional customer service experience.

Even further, under the Affordable Care Act there now exists what is called the Medical Loss Ratio Requirement.  This requirement prevents insurance companies from engaging in excessive spending on administration, salaries and other business costs.  Insurance companies are now required to use 80 cents of every premium dollar collected from individual and small group customers to pay customer claims and support quality of care.  Even before the law, however, BCBSNC exceeded that standard, and in 2012 they paid $260 million dollars more toward health care expenses than was required under the law.  This requirement also means that insurance companies cannot increase rates simply as a way to increase profits, but must maintain a minimum percentage of dollars spent on health care or refund that money to customers.

Let’s face it, the cost of health insurance is on the rise and it can be a strain on any income.  Understanding where your insurance premium goes is an important part of understanding your health insurance plan and what makes it valuable.  Although it may be tough to pay out a few hundred dollars a month, when the need for medical care arises, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is there to make sure you and your family are covered.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Last Chance for 2015 – Federal Marketplace SEP Ending April 30th

Friday, April 24th, 2015

last chance or opportunity time on clock is ticking away now orThe Special Enrollment Period the federal Marketplace granted for those individuals who did not meet the February 15th deadline for Open Enrollment is ending April 30th.  This could be your last chance to enroll in a health insurance policy until January, 2016.  This Special Enrollment Period is not for everyone, but if it applies to you, you could have one last opportunity to get insured.

In an effort to enroll as many Americans as possible, the federal government installed this Special Enrollment Period for people who meet the following three criteria:  1) you were not insured in 2014; 2) you had to pay a tax penalty when you filed your 2014 taxes; 3) you will attest to the fact that you were unaware of the tax penalty or did not fully understand the implications of that penalty.  If these criteria apply to you, you have 6 more days to complete an application for health insurance with the federal Marketplace.  Keep in mind, your application must be completed and submitted by midnight April 30th, meaning you have selected a health plan and your application has been sent to Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.  Depending on your effective date, however, you may still have a period of time before you will need to make your first premium payment.

Once this Special Enrollment Period ends, your opportunity to enroll in health insurance becomes much more limited.  Under the rules of the Affordable Care Act, for the remainder of 2015 you will need to have a Qualifying Life Event in order to purchase health insurance.  If you do not have a Qualifying Life Event, you will have to wait until Open Enrollment 2016 begins in November and you will not have health coverage until January 2016.  Also, don’t forget that the tax penalty, sometimes called the “individual mandate,” for being uninsured is increasing in 2015 and instead of paying $95 per person or 1% of your household income (whichever is greater), next year you will pay $325 per person or 2% of your household income (whichever is greater).  The tax penalty will increase again for 2016.

The bottom line is it doesn’t pay to be uninsured.  Not only are you running the risk of incurring potentially devastating health care bills, you are also not able to maintain your health and wellness through regular preventive care physicals and health maintenance.  If you are one of the many Americans who are still able to enroll in health coverage under the Special Enrollment Period ending April 30th, take advantage of this opportunity to get insured!  Instead of throwing money away on tax penalties, make an investment in your wellness and peace of mind.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is pleased to provide the residents of NC with quality health coverage at a competitive price.  Don’t wait another minute!

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Blue is for Carolina – NC Among States with Highest Rates of Uninsured

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Bodie Island Lighthouse Cape Hatteras National Seashore Outer BaDespite the current Administration’s push to make health insurance a top priority, according to a recent Gallup Poll study, North Carolina ranks among the states that still have the greatest population of uninsured residents. In fact, NC had an uninsured rate of 16.1 percent in 2014, ranking it among the top five states in the nation with the greatest amount of residents who still have no health insurance.  Although many residents in 2014 did take advantage of the Affordable Care Act, purchasing subsidized health plans through the federal Marketplace, a large portion of the population did not.

Changes in the law regarding health insurance as well as changes in state programs such as Medicaid have created quite a stir in the last few months and left many North Carolina residents scratching their heads wondering what to do.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is committed to helping residents of NC obtain quality, cost efficient health coverage both on and off the federal Marketplace.  In fact, every Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health plan is ACA (Affordable Care Act) approved and offers the 10 essential benefits required under the law.  In addition, BCBSNC has a wide variety of health plans available on the Exchange for members who qualify for a federal subsidy.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has an uncontested presence in the state, providing accessible networks in all 100 counties in NC.  Furthermore, unlike other insurance companies offering subsidized plans on the Marketplace, BCBSNC plans are not HMO’s, meaning you will still have coverage even if you happen to go out of network.

With or without the law and the tax penalties associated with being uninsured under the Affordable Care Act, living without health insurance is never a good idea.  Life happens and even the healthiest and most cautious among us can’t control the unexpected.  BCBSNC wants to make sure the residents of North Carolina are covered for routine preventive care and also in case of medical emergency.  Experience the benefits of being a Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC member and help make North Carolina among the nation’s leaders in insured residents.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Suprised by Tax Penalties? – CMS Offers Special Enrollment Period

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Shocked male office workerFor individuals and families who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the tax penalty when they file 2014 taxes, a special enrollment period (SEP) has been announced.  This SEP has been created for those individuals who were unaware of the tax penalty or failed to fully understand the implications of the penalty for not enrolling in coverage during 2014.  From March 15th to April 30th, CMS is providing consumers with another opportunity to purchase health insurance; however, if consumers do not purchase during this enrollment period, they may have to pay the penalty when they file their 2015 income taxes.

The special enrollment period will begin on March 15, 2015 and will end at midnight Eastern Standard Time on April 30, 2015.  If a consumer enrolls in coverage before the 15th of April, coverage will begin on May 1st and if a consumer enrolls between April 16th and April 30th, coverage will begin on June 1st.

Because this year’s tax season is the first time individuals and families are required to provide information about their health coverage on their tax returns, CMS recognizes that there may be an adjustment period.  Administrator Marilyn Tavenner stated regarding this special enrollment period, “Our priority is to… provide those who were not aware or did not understand the requirement with an opportunity to enroll in affordable health coverage this year.” Further, those who could not afford coverage or met other certain conditions may be eligible to receive an exemption from the tax penalty.

The majority of taxpayers will only be required to indicate on their tax return that they had health coverage in 2014, either through an employer, Medicare, Medicaid, or other health coverage that meets the requirements of minimal essential coverage.  Other taxpayers will be granted an exemption from the tax penalty and still other taxpayers will pay a penalty for choosing to remain uninsured.  Americans who do not qualify for an exemption and who are required to pay the penalty will be paying a fine of $95 per adult or 1% of their income, whichever is greater.  This special enrollment period is designed to allow such individuals one final opportunity to get coverage and avoid having to pay other penalties in 2015.

Those eligible for this special enrollment period must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • Live in states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace
  • Attest that when they filed their 2014 tax return they paid the tax penalty for not having coverage
  • Attest that they first became aware of, or understood the implications of, the Federal Tax Penalty after the end of Open Enrollment

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

All information contained herein is subject to change, from time to time, if the Federal Government or Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina implement any new updates and/or changes that can impact information provided in this blog.

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

How Can I get an Exemption from Tax Penalties?

Friday, February 27th, 2015

IRS tax auditor man sitting at desk with business cardAs most Americans know, under the Affordable Care Act you are now required by law to carry qualifying health coverage or pay a tax penalty.  This penalty is sometimes referred to as the “individual shared responsibility payment,” or the “individual mandate.”  In some cases, however, you may qualify for what is called a “health coverage exemption.”

First and foremost, if you are covered by any plan that meets the ACA guidelines of minimum essential coverage , you will not have to pay a tax penalty.  Take a moment and learn what qualifies as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act Law.  Being properly insured is the safest way to avoid any penalties.

If you did not have ACA approved coverage for all or part of 2014, however, you may still qualify for an exemption from the tax penalty.

Below is a list of potential exemptions that might apply to you:

  • You are uninsured for only 1 or 2 consecutive months of the year.
  • You were uninsured for the first part of 2014, but enrolled in a plan with coverage beginning no later than May 1, 2014.
  • The lowest-priced coverage available to you through either an individual or job-based plan would cost more than 8% of your household income.
  • You do not file a tax return based on the fact that your income is below the level that requires filing.
  • You are a member of a federally recognized tribe.
  • You are a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry.
  • You are a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance, including Social Security and Medicare
  • You are incarcerated
  • You are not lawfully present in the United States
  • You are a United States citizen living abroad
  • You qualify for a hardship exemption

You can learn how to apply for any of the above exemptions and find the forms you need by visiting the federal Marketplace.

Once again, the easiest and smartest way to ensure you do not incur a tax penalty is to obtain an ACA approved health plan.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

All information contained herein is subject to change, from time to time, if the Federal Government or Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina implement any new updates and/or changes that can impact information provided in this blog.

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

You May Still Be Able to Enroll – Marketplace Grants Extension

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

last chance or opportunity time on clock is ticking away now orThe Health Insurance Marketplace has announced that despite the fact Open Enrollment ended at midnight, February 15th, you may still be able to obtain health insurance for 2015.  The Insurance Marketplace is granting this extension for anyone who missed the deadline due to either technical issues or unusual call volume that made it impossible for you to complete your application by the deadline.  A Special Enrollment Period has been set for February 16-February 22 by the federal government for all those who may have had trouble on the government website or experienced an extensive Call Center wait on February 13, 14 or 15.

This Special Enrollment Period may apply to you:

1.  if you tried to enroll in health coverage by the deadline, but did not complete the enrollment process because of unusual wait times at the Call Center or…

2.  if you tried to enroll, but were unable to complete enrollment due to a technical issue, such as being unable to submit your application because verification sources were down.

If either of these apply to you, you may still be able to get coverage.  To finish your enrollment, you must attest to the truth of one of the above statements with the federal Marketplace and this opportunity will only be available until February 22. 2015.  In order to determine if you eligible for this Special Enrollment Period, you should contact the Marketplace directly.  If you do determine you are still eligible to enroll, we would be happy to help you pick your Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC health plan and guide you through the steps to complete the enrollment process.

Please note that this Special Enrollment Period is intended to help consumers enroll for 2015 health insurance for the first time.  It is not applicable for customers who are already enrolled in a plan through the Marketplace and simply want to switch to a different plan now.  Changes to your health insurance policy are now subject to the rules of Special Enrollment including Qualifying Life Events.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Open Enrollment Ending Soon – February 15th Application Deadline

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Calendar On Desk - February 15ThThe Open Enrollment period for 2015 and your once-a-year opportunity to enroll a new Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health plan or make changes to your current plan is coming to a close February 15th.  Open Enrollment began November 15th, but if you are one of the many Americans still trying to obtain health insurance for 2015 or if you still need to make changes to your health insurance policy, there is still time.

Here are four different scenarios that may apply to you:

Members with Grandfathered Plans:

A Grandfathered Plan is a health plan that was in place on March 23, 2010 and has had no changes made to it.  These plans are exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act requirements; however, you do have the option to change to an ACA plan.  Keep in mind, though, that once you give up your Grandfathered plan you will not be able to get it back.  Carefully consider the costs and benefits of your current plan and compare it against the available ACA plans before making a decision to change.

Members with Transitional Plans:

A transitional plan is a health plan that was purchased between March 24, 2010 and October 1, 2013.  These plans were originally supposed to be canceled on January 1, 2014 because of the new ACA requirements, but the administration decided at the last minute that members could keep these plans for two additional years.  Like with Grandfathered Plans, you may decide to switch to an ACA plan but remember, a new plan may cost more than your current plan, even with a subsidy applied.  Be sure to weigh your options carefully.

Members with ACA or Subsidized Plans:

ACA plans include many of those purchased on the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014.  If you have one of these plans, there are some important questions you need to ask.  You want to consider how much you want to pay out of pocket for premiums and deductibles and also you need to consider the size of your network.  If you received a subsidy in 2014, you need to visit the Marketplace and update your subsidy qualifications.  If you don’t, you might not receive as much subsidy as you deserve and could wind up paying more than necessary for your health plan.

Members with ACA or Non-Subsidized Plans:

If you did not receive a subsidy in 2014 and you would like to make changes to your plan, you can still see if you qualify for a subsidy.  Again, consider the plans carefully, including the size of your network, out of pocket costs and monthly premiums.

FEBRUARY 15, 2015 is the last day you can apply for a 2015 plan or make changes to your current plan before the end of the Annual Enrollment Period.  After February 15, you will be subject to the rules of Special Enrollment involving Qualifying Life Events.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Only 10 Days Left – Open Enrollment Ends February 15th

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Closing Soon ClockWith the holidays behind us and tax season looming, you may not realize that Open Enrollment is rapidly coming to a close, but it most certainly is.  In fact, there are only 10 days left to finish your application for a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health plan and the application must be completed by midnight, February 15th.  If you do not complete an application by the official end of Open Enrollment, you will not be able to purchase health insurance unless you have a Qualifying Life Event until Open Enrollment once again commences later this year.

If you are one of the many Americans trying to obtain a health plan for 2015 before the deadline, there are a few things to keep in mind.  First of all, under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act you are now required by law to carry health insurance or incur a tax penalty.  The tax penalty is increasing in 2015: a minimum of $325 per year per person or up to 2% of annual individual income (whichever is greater).  To avoid paying this tax penalty, you cannot go uninsured for more than three months in the calendar year.

Also, if you are applying for a federal subsidy to help reduce the cost of your health insurance premium, you must complete a subsidy application before choosing your health plan.  As February 15th approaches, both the Marketplace website and phone lines will be busier and busier.   The sooner you complete your application, the easier it will be.  Keep in mind that not all plans offered through the federal Marketplace are equal.  A Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina subsidized health plan offers the broadest network of providers in the state of North Carolina and because it is not an HMO, you will still have coverage even if you happen to go out of network.

If you complete your application for a subsidized health plan by February 15th, your coverage will begin March 1st and that is the soonest effective date available to you at this point.  However, if you are applying for an unsubsidized health plan, you can still receive an effective date of February 15th if you complete your application by midnight, February 8th.  Either way, all applications for health insurance must be completed by the end of Open Enrollment or be subject to the rules of Special Enrollment involving Qualifying Life Events.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online

Bypass the Marketplace – Unsubsidized BCBSNC health plans

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

shortcut short route cut distance fast easy way bypassWith all the talk surrounding the Affordable Care Act and government subsidies, it’s easy to think that a subsidized health plan through the federal Marketplace is the only kind available to you; however, that is not the case.  ACA approved unsubsidized health plans are still available to all consumers and there is no need to visit the Marketplace to apply.  In fact, every Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health plan is ACA compliant, meaning they cover the 10 essential benefits required under the Affordable Care Act and you are able to purchase the plans either with or without a federal subsidy.  Federal subsidies are based entirely on income, and though many Americans do qualify for a tax credit to offset the costs of their monthly health insurance premiums, many other Americans do not.  Initially this may seem like bad news, but it is not entirely without benefit.

If you currently do not qualify for a federal tax credit based on your income, although your monthly premiums may be higher, the application process itself will be much simpler.  In fact, you can get an unsubsidized ACA approved BCBSNC health plan in only a few short minutes.  With the exception of tobacco use, you will not have to answer any questions about your health and no income or tax information will be required.  Furthermore, your health coverage will in no way impact your federal income tax, other than the fact that maintaining a health insurance policy will save you from incurring a tax penalty.  Fluctuations in income will not need to be reported to the federal government because your health insurance premium is not being subsidized.

Another important fact to remember is that being eligible for a subsidy and being eligible for coverage are two different things.  Just because you may not qualify for a subsidy does not mean you are ineligible for insurance.  For example, your child might qualify for Medicaid and thus be unable to receive a federal subsidy; however, you can still purchase an ACA approved unsubsidized BCBSNC health plan for that child.

The main thing to keep in mind is that insurance plans and federal subsidies are two separate things and sometimes bypassing the Marketplace altogether is the smarter choice depending on your circumstance.  Either way, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina can offer you coverage unlike any other.  With the largest and most extensive network in North Carolina, BCBSNC is the best choice for you and your family – either on or off the Marketplace.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

Free Rate Quote and Apply Online