If you're wondering how you're going to be able to afford health insurance this year, you're certainly not alone. Healthcare reform has resulted in ongoing premium increases since its inception, and there's really no way to tell where the cap is at this point. One of the groups affected most by this, are those working for low to moderate wages - especially those individuals and families who do not qualify for free health insurance.
Health Insurance Tax Credit
The Advance Premium Tax Credit is new under the Affordable Care Act, and was put in place to help those who may need help paying for health insurance. To apply for a credit, you'll need to register on the Healthcare Marketplace. A licensed health insurance agent can help you with this if you're not comfortable doing so. Once your income is calculated and family information entered, you'll be told whether or not you qualify for a health insurance tax credit, as well as the cost of your new plan. It's important to remember that any changes to your income, employment or family status will affect the amount you receive, and these changes need to be reported through the marketplace website.
Keep in mind that a tax credit can affect the amount of your tax return. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, if the amount of advance credit payments received during the year is less than your expected year-end tax credit, the difference will be given to you as a refundable credit when filing your income taxes. If your yearly advance payments are more than the amount of your credit, you will be required to repay the excess advance payments with you return.
Out-of-Pocket Expense Reductions
Another way to help lower your health insurance premiums is through cost sharing, which works by offering lower copays, deductibles and co-insurance to those who need assistance. This is another option available on the health insurance marketplace, and was designed to make out of pocket expenses more reasonable. It can be helpful if you need to visit your doctor, have a medical procedure done, are sent to the emergency room, and many other common healthcare expenses.
Once you've finished filling out your application on the marketplace website, it will tell you whether or not you are eligible for reduced out of pocket expenses. Again, if you're not tech-savvy or comfortable doing this on your own, an agency such as Premier can help.
Medicaid & CHIP Insurance
In more dire financial situations, including those where the applicant is unemployed or well below the established poverty guidelines, government programs such as Medicaid and CHIP (or Children's Health Insurance) may offer health insurance coverage at little to no cost. Just like tax credits and out of pocket reductions, the process of applying for Medicaid or CHIP will begin on the healthcare marketplace website. If it is determined that you qualify for either of these programs, the appropriate agency will be contacted allowing your coverage to begin right away.
If you are, in fact, eligible for Medicaid, you will not be able to apply for a tax credit or receive cost sharing assistance. To find out whether or not you're eligible, one of our agents will be happy to help you in making that determination.
Save time and avoid mistakes by working with a Health Insurance Agent
Premier is one of the leading Obamacare specialists in the Chicago area, and has a staff of agents who can walk you through the process or assist in filling out your application. If you or someone you know is struggling to pay for health insurance, please call us at 800-369-0287 or e-mail us confidentially through our website.