It is Open Enrollment season and if you have either no health insurance, an individual health plan or Medicare, you must act now to get insurance or make any changes that you want. To help you prepare for Open Enrollment, I invited John Huncharek with Academy Financial Group to write a guest blog post on Open Enrollment. Please feel free to contact John with any of your insurance questions.
Just like a company health plan in which you have a month to make any changes or add yourself or your dependents to a plan, individual plans have generally November 15-January 15 to sign up. Sign up by December 14 and you start on January 1, 2015. After that, your start date would be February 1. For Medicare, you can add or make changes until December 7th.
Most people have only this time to obtain a plan but there are qualifying events called Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) during the year that can allow you to get insurance before next year’s open enrollment. If you move, get married, divorced or lose your insurance through no fault of yours, you can get a plan during the year. For example, if you leave your job and lose your group health insurance you have a 30 day SEP. However, if you just don’t pay your bill and lose your insurance, that does not trigger an SEP. Best to call your health insurance agent and see if you qualify.
If you make less than the Federal Poverty Level FPL, you have Medicaid available. Make between 100% and 400% of the FPL, you may get a government subsidy, otherwise, the cost is your own. Each individual in a family can get their own plan but if you don’t, you are subject to the government penalty for not buying health insurance. This year, the penalty for not having insurance is $95 per person ($47.50 for a child) or 1% of your Gross Adjusted Income whichever is greater.
Companies have Open Enrollment periods every year as well and that is the time to shop insurance companies for the best deals whether it be PPOs, HMOs, Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Arrangements. Rules for companies under 20 employees, under 50 people and over 50 people have very different rules and laws that apply. And under Obamacare, figuring out how many employees the government says you have is not easy and obvious to figure out. The entire process can be so confusing, even agents can get it wrong unless they are really studying and keeping track of the weekly changes.
Here at Academy Financial Group, we help companies and families find the best insurance solution for them. We will be happy to answer questions at 713-898-5909 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.