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Is Health Insurance Necessary?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Businessman ThinkingWith the cost of health insurance on the rise and everyone scrambling to try and find a plan they can afford, more and more people are asking:  Is health insurance even necessary?  It’s a fair question and one that demands an answer.

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that under the Affordable Care Act, you are now required by law to be enrolled in a health insurance plan.  If you go three consecutive months uninsured, you will incur a tax penalty and the tax penalty for 2016 has increased substantially. In addition to the tax penalty, however, you will also be responsible for any and all health care expenses you and your family have in a given year, which is really the important consideration.  Recently, in fact, I had an experience that got me thinking long and hard about the importance of being insured. (more…)

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 are some examples of potential exemptions that might apply to you:

  • You are uninsured for only 1 or 2 consecutive months of the year.
  • 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.

Don’t Worry, There’s Still Time – Open Enrollment 2015

Monday, January 5th, 2015

bigstock-Time-runs-fast--20810276Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun, you may find yourself wondering if you missed your chance to acquire health coverage for 2015.  Good news!  There is still plenty of time to apply.  Although December 15th was the application deadline for coverage beginning January 1st, Open Enrollment is still ongoing and will be until mid-February.

If you are applying for a government subsidy through the healthcare Marketplace, you can still get coverage beginning February 1st as long as you complete your application by the 15th of January.  Also, if you are NOT applying for a federal subsidy, you can be in a Blue Cross Blue Shield individual health plan as early as January 15th, provided you complete your application by midnight January 8th.

Don’t forget:  Under the Affordable Care Act, you are required to carry health insurance or incur a tax penalty and the penalty is increasing.  For 2015, the penalty is 2% of your yearly household income or $325 per person and $162.50 for each child.  In order to avoid paying a tax penalty, the federal government has mandated you cannot go more than a three month period without health insurance and that’s where Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina can help.  Not only will a BCBSNC health plan save you from incurring this tax penalty in 2015, it will also give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your family are covered in times of sickness and health.

Whether you are applying for a federal subsidy or not, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC has a health plan that will fit not only your family’s health care needs, but also your budget.  Don’t miss your opportunity to apply.  The New Year has begun, but there is still time to complete an application for health insurance before Open Enrollment 2015 comes to a close.

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.

Go Blue – Avoid Paying Penalties

Monday, September 29th, 2014

GO BLUE – AVOID UPCOMING TAX PENALTIES

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act mandates that all taxpayers purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty when reconciling taxes.  In addition, the penalty will increase every year until 2016.  Below is a list of the graduating tax penalty as outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

Taxes and BCBSNC

• 2014: a minimum of $95 per year or up to 1% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)

• 2015: a minimum of $325 per year or up to 2% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)

•2016: a minimum of $695 per year or up to 2.5% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)

To avoid having to pay these penalties, get your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina FREE RATE QUOTE today.  BCBSNC offers a variety of health insurance plans and premiums that will work for both you and your budget.  To find the plan that suits you best, click here.

For more information on health insurance coverage in North Carolina, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our professional agents. Our agency provides coverage for health insurance in North Carolina through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC). It would be our pleasure to help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of Obamacare. Call us for details.

The Cost of Being Uninsured

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

bigstockphoto_colored_calculator_1756282Everyone knows you have to pay for health insurance, but did you know there is also a cost to being uninsured?  Under the Affordable Care Act there is a price to pay for not carrying health insurance. The penalty incurred for being uninsured is sometimes called the “individual responsibility payment” or the “individual mandate,” and the fine in 2014 is calculated one of two ways.  If you or your dependents do not have health insurance that qualifies as minimum essential coverage you will pay either 1% of your yearly household income or $95 per person, whichever is greater, for the year ($47.50 per child under 18).

Please note, however, that the penalty increases every year.  In 2015 it is 2% of income or $325 per person and in 2016 and later years it is 2.5% of income or $695 per person.  Also, it is important to remember that even if you pay the penalty, you still do not have health coverage and are responsible for 100% of your medical care.

The important thing to understand is that not only is health insurance a prudent decision for your life, it is also a wise choice for your wallet.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) offers an array of affordable health plans  that not only save you from unwanted out of pocket medical expenses, it can also save you the cost of being uninsured.  For a complete definition of what qualifies as minimum essential coverage and a comprehensive look at how the tax penalty for being uninsured is calculated review the Affordable Care Act guidelines with IRS.

For more information on health insurance coverage in North Carolina, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our professional agents. Our agency provides coverage for health insurance in North Carolina through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC). It would be our pleasure to help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of Obamacare. Call us for details.

Affordable Care Act – Tax Penalties

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

bigstock-Insurance-or-Penalty-sign-conc-52884937In 2014, the Affordable Care Act mandates that all taxpayers purchase health insurance or pay a penalty on their tax returns. The penalty will increase every year until 2016.  Get your Free Rate Quote and apply for your coverage today through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and avoid these penalties.

  • 2014: a minimum of $95 per year or up to 1% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)
  • 2015: a minimum of $325 per year or up to 2% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)
  • 2016: a minimum of $695 per year or up to 2.5% of annual individual income (whichever is greater)

You can enroll in a plan from 10/1/2013 to 3/31/2014.  Unless special circumstances apply, you will not have the opportunity to enroll again until until 2014 Open Enrollment  for coverage that starts 1/1/2015. That means you cannot wait for a medical need to enroll.

For more information on health insurance coverage in North Carolina, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our professional agents. Our agency provides coverage for health insurance in North Carolina through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC). It would be our pleasure to help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of Obama care. Call us for details.