If you do not have health insurance at this time, November 15th is the quickly approaching date for you to take advantage of the opportunity to be eligible to purchase a policy. Did you know that as of January 1st 2015, any adult without health insurance earning above the Affordable Care Act (ACA) income threshold, is responsible to pay a penalty of $95.00 or 1% of their annual income (whichever is higher)? Did you know that there is a limited time for you to apply for coverage?
So maybe you lost the health insurance sponsored by your employer or you no longer qualify to be on your parent’s plan due to your age. Beginning on November 15, 2014 you have a chance to be proactive and purchase health insurance for an upcoming January 1, 2015 effective date. This is called “Open Enrollment”. If you haven’t applied for coverage by February 15th, 2015 you will need to wait until the next Open Enrollment period scheduled for November 15, 2015.
•What is Open Enrollment?
This is a period during which an individual can apply for health insurance with fewer restrictions than at any other time during the year. It is important for those individuals who are not covered under their employer’s insurance, or simply are uninsured, to pay close attention and remember the dates for Open Enrollment: November 15, 2014 through February 15th, 2015. During Open Enrollment, insurance companies are supposed to waive underwriting guidelines and any requirement for evidence of insurability. When Open Enrollment ends individuals seeking coverage need to be “qualified” for Special Enrollment, or they will have to wait until the next scheduled open enrollment period on November 15, 2015! Special Enrollment or qualifying events include, but are not limited to: divorce, marriage, birth, death and loss of employer sponsored coverage.
•How can individual insurance be purchased?
A number of Health Insurance Companies are offering Individual health coverage either directly through health carrier websites, via the New York State Health Exchange, or off the Exchange through independent insurance brokers.
• What penalties will you be responsible to pay if you are not covered?
In 2014: $95.00 or 1% of income (individual)
$285.00 or 1% of income (family)
In 2015: $325.00 or 2% of income (individual)
$975.00 or 2% of income (family)
In 2016: $695.00 or 2.5% of income (individual)
$2085 or 2.5% of income (family
Although the penalty may seem minimal in 2014, as you can see, it will increase for the upcoming years. Keep in mind that you will be responsible to pay the greater amount; percentage of income, or fixed dollar amount.
Some people feel that the premium for a health insurance plan seems unnecessary and excessive for a young healthy individual. However, we strongly suggest that you keep in mind that “accidents do happen” and the cost of an emergency room visit, x-rays, MRIs, hospital stays and doctor visits add up and can be devastating to you and your family’s financial situation.
We urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to purchase health insurance during this year’s Open Enrollment.
By Narima Prashad