Final Days To Obtain Health Insurance
March 31, 2014, is the last day in which you can submit an application for health insurance this year, without a qualifying event. The open enrollment period is down to the last few days to take advantage of the opportunity to protect yourself from the tax penalty for 2014. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you view your options on our website:
- Know your deadlines. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) creates specific deadlines that affect you when it comes to enrolling in coverage and avoiding a tax penalty at the end of the year. March 31 is the last day of the nationwide open enrollment period for 2014. You need to enroll in health insurance coverage by this date in order to avoid possibly having to pay a tax penalty on your 2014 federal tax return of up to 1% of household income. You should know that enrolling in coverage in the second half of the month generally means coverage likely will take affect on the first day of the month, two months in the future. So, for example, enrolling by March 15 means that your coverage may start as early as April 1, but enrolling on March 16 means that your coverage may not begin until May 1.
- Shop outside of public exchanges to explore all your coverage options. Government exchange websites are designed to provide subsidy-eligible consumers with access to plans specially qualified for purchase with a subsidy. Some major carriers have opted not to sell plans through the exchanges. Consumers who want to choose from the broadest selection of plans and find the best match for their needs and budget also should consider plans available off the exchange through licensed agents. These plans will still meet the coverage requirements of the law and keep you from having to pay a tax penalty, so long as you maintain your coverage during the year without a gap.
- Understand the true cost of any health plan you’re considering. The true cost of any health insurance plan is about more than your monthly premiums. It’s also about how costs are shared when you actually receive medical care. Look at your annual deductible, copayments, and coinsurance — and your annual out-of-pocket maximum. Understand how different forms of cost-sharing may apply to different kinds of medical care. Read the fine print, and talk to a licensed agent for personal help understanding your coverage details
- Pay attention to doctor, hospital and pharmacy networks. People who already had self-purchased coverage in 2013 might find that their list of network providers is different in 2014. Just because your favorite doctor accepts a specific insurance company doesn’t mean that he or she is a preferred provider for all plans sold by that insurer. Provider networks may have changed on January 1, and some plans limit your access to providers to help keep costs in check. Make sure that the doctors or hospitals you like best — or the ones close to your home—are preferred providers under your new health plan in 2014.
Matsock is a full service agency and we will gladly assist with all of your insurance needs. Call us first so that we can guide you in the right direction.