Hello Ladies and Gents! It is officially that time of year (not just the flu season…not just the holiday season…) but it’s time to select your insurance plan for the 2018 calendar year!! Very exciting stuff!
Now I’m sure you must be looking at the options and thinking… “What the heck do these words mean?” “Which plan is the most cost-effective for me and my family?” “Which plan is going to cover the health care that I need?” Maybe you are even thinking “Where the heck do I even start??”
I’m here for you!!!
Throughout the next few weeks I will post about the basics of the health insurance system so that you feel more confident in the decisions you are making about which health insurance plan to select.
First important point to make:
Make sure you have health insurance! Just one accidental hospitalization can cost up to six figures so if you don’t have that money in the bank you should get health insurance!
Hopefully someday soon it will be easier for everyone to have health insurance but right now it is still really tricky. Here are some recommendations based on your potential situation:
- If you work for a large employer that’s great- you can take the offered insurance and cover as many members of your family that you can.
- If you are under 26, you can have your parents claim you on their health insurance. The only requirement is age so don’t worry if you don’t live with them, are married, etc.
- If you are not offered insurance through your employer, you can go to your state’s health insurance exchange website. (See links below)
- If you are an independent young adult who is not offered insurance through your job or your parents and you are very healthy, you can go onto your state health insurance exchange website, just like I mentioned, but you can opt for a very lean health plan that is inexpensive. That way you are covered if something should happen and you avoid the tax penalty at the end of the year for not having insurance.
- If you are over 65 or have kidney failure, sign up for Medicare!
- If you are not offered insurance through your employer and are having trouble financially affording health insurance, you can check your state’s Medicaid requirements. You may be eligible for insurance based on your current situation. If you have children, they may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Here are some links to help you navigate purchasing health insurance if your employer doesn’t offer it:
https://www.healthcare.gov/ -This site will lead you to your state-based health insurance exchange that I mention above. Click on “Find Local Help”.
https://www.medicare.gov/ -Here’s where you can sign up your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones for Medicare.
https://www.medicaid.gov/ -Here’s the site where you can learn about Medicaid and CHIP and whether your current financial status allows health insurance coverage for you and your family.
And on a side note, you might be wondering about this tax penalty…
The concept here is that all individuals across the country should have health insurance- both for their own health but also for the sake of the risk pool and societal contribution (which I’ll explain in a different post once we get through the basics).
If you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you may pay a fee called the individual shared responsibility payment. This is typically called the “tax penalty” or “individual mandate.”
For the 2017 plan year, the fee is calculated 2 different ways – as a percentage of your household income or per person. You’ll pay whichever is higher. The fee is 2.5% of household income or $695 per adult + $347.50 per child.
Ok, everyone! It’s time to get out there and purchase your 2018 Health Insurance Plan! The market closes in December!
This is just the beginning of the Health Insurance 101 series so please feel free to send questions below or through the website contact page so I can be sure to address them in future blogs. Together we can simplify the health insurance complexities!
Cheers to Health and Happiness!