Health Care Insurance Shopping Lowdown
The Health Care Insurance Exchanges are now open, and you have between now and March 1, 2014, to purchase a new health care insurance plan during the open enrollment period. Rest assured, if you experience a life-altering event, such as losing your job, moving to another state or having a baby, you will be eligible to purchase a policy beyond the open enrollment dates.
One of the tricky things about trying to establish a uniform set of guidelines regarding health insurance is that everyone’s needs are different. There are so many different storylines — multi-level family configurations, work and income arrangements, and even age and health conditions — that factor in to what type of insurance plan works best for you and how much it may cost. That’s why there are so many articles and frequently asked questions columns out there that currently address these issues.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Answering Consumer Questions About Obamacare Marketplaces,” at Kaiser Health News, Sept. 25, 2013.]
One of the biggest questions is whether your health insurance will cost more or less if you buy it from the exchanges. The answer is as personal as one person never getting sick while another has chronic asthma and another has cancer — no one really knows.
For those of you who are curious about rates, but haven’t quite made it to your available exchange to price policies, you might want to check out Kaiser’s rate calculator. In about 10 seconds with some basic information inputs you can get a ballpark annual rate. It also will tell you whether you may qualify for a rate subsidy, based on your income level.
[CLICK HERE to check out the “Subsidy Calculator” at the Kaiser Family Foundation, 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “State Premium Watch: Pricing in the New Insurance Marketplaces,” at Kaiser Health News, Sept. 24, 2013.]
The nice thing about the exchanges is that you can shop anonymously, without having to enter so much information that you’re bombarded with solicitous phone calls and emails. To find out if you qualify for a subsidy you’ll need to submit your annual income, but you still don’t have to give your name or contact information until you’re ready to apply for a policy.
The health care law is actually more confusing for small business owners, many offering health insurance for the first time. When you consider how difficult it is to shop for your own policy, imagine the challenges of shopping for a small staff of people you may have worked with for years and care about deeply, and have to balance that concern and responsibility for their health care with the bottom line of your business profitability. For some small businesses, their profit margin is so small that it could be completely eliminated by the legislative mandate.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New Law, New Rules, New Taxes” at the National Federation of Independent Business, September/October 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Small Business Owners Facing Tough Decisions in Wake of Health Care Ruling,” at the Huffington Post, June 28, 2013.]
Some people are blessed with good health, and don’t have to use health care services very often. For a person in that situation, it’s annoying to have to pay for insurance at all, and doubly annoying to have to pay so much for it. By the same token, you may never use a homeowner’s or auto or umbrella insurance policy in your lifetime, but you still have to pay for them. Perhaps we don’t pay out as much of our income each year for those policies, but then again perhaps the likelihood of needing them is lower as well.
It is because we — as a collective population — need medical services more often that it is one of the most important coverages you can carry. After all, it’s really more about the cost of the big things — the cancer diagnosis, the triple bypass surgery — that insurance protects you from.
Insurance shopping comes down to balancing the health and well being of you and your loved ones with your own bottom line. The same applies to planning for retirement — it’s important to focus on your biggest priorities, even if that means foregoing luxuries.
If we can help you prioritize how you spend and save your hard-earned income, please give us a call.
By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.
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