January 31st marks the last day you can enroll in 2017 health insurance coverage without a qualifying life event. With all the talk of “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act, you may be wondering if you should still enroll, what’s going to happen to your tax credits, or if you will be penalized if you don’t enroll. We’re here to help.
First, yes, if you are uninsured, you should still enroll in a health plan. Even if you have coverage, it pays to shop around to compare this year’s plans and prices. And while no one can say at this point what will happen as far as a penalty if you aren’t insured, when you consider that medical bills are still the number one form of bankruptcy in the United States, it pays to be covered. According to a 2015 study released by Johns Hopkins, the average new uninsured patient appointment costs $160. And while that may not seem like a lot, that is the fee for being seen; costs can quickly skyrocket. Johns Hopkins notes that even a medical bill of $100 represents “one-tenth of the monthly income of a single adult living at the poverty level.”
With an increase in monthly premiums seen pretty much across the board this open enrollment period, you may also be wondering if prices will go down in the future under the new administration. Premiums have risen for a number of factors such as the current risk pool balance and plan requirements. While the proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act seek to stabilize and even lower premiums, that’s just not something anyone knows at this point. Which brings us to…
…tax credits and subsidies. As of now, they still work as they always have. They’re based on your household income, family size, and zip code. There is a Republican proposal for how tax credits might work after the new administration makes changes to health insurance laws. The new proposal bases tax credit amounts solely on age. To help you see how that may affect you and your family, we’ve put together a simple online calculator that allows you to compare “Obamacare” tax credits with the current Republican proposal. Remember though, as of right now, the new amounts are only a proposal and for this current open enrollment, you’ll want to focus on the “Obamacare Tax Credit”.
At the end of the day, the enrollment deadline is coming; coverage remains important; and as always, we are here to help answer any questions you may have and to help you choose a plan.