One way to do this is with great benefits. To find out what you think about company-provided benefits, we’re asking about it in this month’s poll. Let us know!
Choosing your insurance provider while unemployed can turn into a full-time job.
Choosing an insurance plan isn’t easy. Especially if you’re unemployed. The options can seem endless, particularly when you don’t know where to start. Start off with figuring out how the Health Insurance Marketplace works. But what else do you need to know before you choose an insurance plan? Here are our top three questions to ask that will make your search easier.
1. Will it satisfy the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act?
The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that if you don’t have ‘qualifying’ insurance for nine months out of the year prior to enrolling in insurance, but are classified as being able to afford it, you have to pay a penalty because you were uninsured after the ACA’s rollout. This fee will be applicable for any month you, your spouse, or any dependents did not have ‘qualifying’ health coverage. As noted on the HealthCare.gov website, the amount of the fee will be either 2.5% of your household income (capped at the total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan purchased on the ACA marketplace), or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (capped at $2,085). You will pay whichever amount is higher.
So what types of health coverage don’t qualify for the individual mandate? They include: having coverage for only vision care and/or dental, workers’ compensation, coverage for only a specific disease or condition, and plans that only offer discounts on medical services.
Compare your options at the ACA marketplace for your state by inputting your zip code at HealthCare.gov. If your state doesn’t have a state marketplace, you will be redirected to the Federal marketplace.
2. Can I afford a higher deductible?
Next, you should ask yourself what type of deductible you can afford. If you choose a higher deductible, you will have to pay more before insurance kicks in, but your monthly insurance premium cost should be lower. Choosing a low deductible means your premium will generally be higher. It’s the same as car insurance — if you can afford a higher deductible, you could save money. If you choose to enroll in a health maintenance organization (HMO), you usually won’t have to pay any deductibles or copays so long as you stay in network. However, these benefits come with reduced freedom in choosing your doctor.
3. Will I be moving soon?
Before you choose a plan, make sure that you aren’t going to move any time soon. If you enroll in a health insurance plan from the ACA marketplace and then move to a new state, you’ll need to switch to a plan offered by the new state. Moving to higher income areas may also result in having to re-enroll. Moving is categorized as a qualifying life event, meaning that you can sign up for new insurance right away. That means getting to do all of the paperwork over again.
Have any more insurance questions? Let us know in the comments below!
Now that the Health Insurance Marketplace has opened, you may wonder how it applies to you and what actions you need to take. With all the conflicting information swirling around, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But, don’t let that keep you from getting educated and making the best insurance decision for you and your family.
A good place to begin your research is by visiting Healthcare.gov. This site has an abundance of information, so here are the top three things you need to know.
How You Qualify
Anyone can purchase their health insurance through the marketplace. Those who are currently uninsured will be matched with the best type of plan based on their household size and income. These range from standard private insurance and reduced-cost private insurance to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Even if you’re eligible for health insurance through your employer, you can purchase your own insurance through the marketplace if you choose to.
How To Enroll
To purchase a plan, or even to shop for the best rate, you first have to determine if your state operates its own marketplace or if it has deferred to the federal government. You can find out by obtaining your state information from the federal marketplace. Once you’re at the right marketplace, you can proceed with the enrollment process. Some specific information is required in the application, so you will want to ensure you’ve gathered all the necessary documents before you begin. If you need help, you can contact trained local organizations or get assistance directly from marketplace representatives.
When Coverage Begins
If you enroll by Dec. 15, 2013, coverage can start as early as Jan. 1, 2014. However, open enrollment closes on March 31, 2014, and most people without health insurance after that point will be penalized and charged a fee. The fee will start at $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1% of your family income, whichever is more, and continue to grow each year.
Don’t let confusion or a lack of knowledge keep you from understanding your insurance options. With the deadline only five months away, you need to begin your decision process now so you’re not too late and faced with penalty fees.