Helping You Through The Health Insurance Maze
By Mandi Henson
Open enrollment for health insurance begins on November 1, 2016. The deadline for enrollment is January 31, 2017, which may seem like a long time away, but as almost anyone who’s already been through the process knows, it can be a confusing time. If you are fortunate enough to have your employer pay for all or a part of your health insurance premium, consider yourself lucky. Nearly 50% of Americans are finding themselves in a position where they are footing the bill for their own health insurance premiums. Some premiums are even reaching levels above a monthly mortgage payment. Fortunately, there are options out there to help lower the cost of your health insurance premiums.
The first step in considering your health insurance options is to speak with a licensed agent who can provide you with information you need to make an informed decision. Licensed agents will ask you a set of standard questions in order to best advise you and get you the coverage you need.
The agent will also ask about household income to find out if you qualify for a premium tax credit. A tax credit (sometimes referred to as a subsidy) is a sum of money that is usually paid by the Federal government directly to the insurance carrier on your behalf. In Illinois, premium tax credits should be available to those individuals and families with a household income between 138% and 400% of the federal poverty level. Any household income below 138% would qualify for Medicaid based on income alone.
If you do not purchase health insurance, and you do not qualify for an exemption, you will pay a fee when you file your federal tax return for the year you were without minimum essential coverage for more than three consecutive months. The fee is calculated by a percentage, or a per person fee, whichever is greater.
Outside of the open enrollment period, you can enroll in a health insurance plan only if you have a qualifying event, such as getting married, having a baby, or losing other coverage.