Enrollment for Obamacare Tax Penalty

Have you learned you have a tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2014?  If so, there could be a new Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for you.  This enrollment allows those who did not have health insurance coverage during 2014 or had coverage that did not meet minimum essential coverage as defined by the law to enroll in coverage after the Open Enrollment Period (Feb 15th) ended.

You now have the opportunity to enroll in coverage during this one time SEP.  It starts March 15th and ends April 30th.  In order to qualify you must meet the following:

  • Are not currently enrolled in health coverage through the Marketplace for 2015
  • Attest that you paid the fee for not having health coverage in 2014
  • Attest that you first learned of this penalty after Open Enrollment ended (Feb 15th)

You must be able to answer yes to all of the above questions.

How does this affect you? 

You could now be eligible to purchase coverage through the Marketplace during this SEP (March 15th thru April 30th).  You may qualify for a subsidy based on your household income and family size.  This does not exclude you from the 2015 penalty, but it does allow you to reduce it since you will have coverage for part of 2015.

Who does this not help?

If you had coverage for 2014, but did not renew the policy, this SEP does not apply to you.  If you did not update your coverage during Open Enrollment, you cannot make changes during this SEP.  This one time SEP is only available to those who can answer yes to the 3 bullet points listed above.

What should you do now?

If you qualify, you may be seeking help to determine what options might be best for you.  We have helped 1000+ North Carolinians find coverage that fits their budget and needs.  In order for us to help you, simply complete the form on the right side of our website (ObamacareForNC.com).  Under “Life Change,” select “I have the Tax Penalty.”  Once you have completed this form, we will reach out to help you move forward.  We can handle the entire process over the phone and via computer.  We work hard to make this process simple and painless for you.  Act now, this one time SEP will be over before you know it.

New Options for NC Obamacare in 2015

The annual enrollment period for 2015 coverage for NC Obamacare will be here before we know it…enrollment starts on November 15 and goes through February 15. In 2014 there were only two health insurance carriers that participated on the marketplace for subsidized premiums in North Carolina. In 2015, United HealthCare (UHC) will also offer a range of plan options to compete with these other two options. Since plans and rates for these three carriers have yet to be released to the public we don’t know a whole lot of information. We do know that the current two carriers plans will be very similar to what they were in 2014. We have heard that the plan options with UHC will be Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) based and will have plan options ranging from Bronze to Platinum. If you have used us in the past you will know that we strongly encourage a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) based network over an HMO based network. A lot of times when people are looking over plans without a professionals assistance this may be overlooked because they are only looking at price. Some of the pitfalls of an HMO based product is as follows:

  • Primary care physician (PCP) coordinates all care
  • Referrals needed from PCP to see specialists
  • No out of network coverage….must remain within the HMO.  This is a high risk
  • Limited choice of doctors in network

This is just a few of the issues that we have with the HMO product.  You really have to evaluate your risk vs reward in choosing these plans and this is where we can assist you the most.  We give you an unbiased opinion on the plan options and ensure that you fully understand you benefits.  Best of all there is absolutely zero cost to you for our services!

Special Enrollment Period – Losing Health Coverage

In follow up to our last blog post regarding Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) we wanted to look further into some specific ones that are most common. The most common SEP qualification we are seeing is for individuals that have lost or will lose their health coverage from their employer.

Since we are outside of the Annual Enrollment Period you must have a qualifying life event (QLE) in order to purchase coverage on the North Carolina health insurance marketplace. If you are losing your employer health insurance involuntarily you have a 60 day window to purchase health insurance on the marketplace either before or after the event occurs. This is the only QLE that you can purchase coverage before the event occurs.

Let’s look at a few scenarios to further illustrate:

Scenario 1:

John’s employer terminates the group coverage effective May 1, 2014. John contacts us on July 15th to apply for coverage.

Result: John CANNOT purchase coverage because he is past his 60 day enrollment period and will have to wait until November 15, 2014 to apply (start of the next AEP) for coverage to start January 1, 2015 or until he has another QLE.

Scenario 2:

John’s employer terminates the group coverage effective May 1, 2014. John contacts us on April 30 and we submit an application.

Result: John can submit an application prior to 60 days of the QLE occurring. In this scenario because he did it before the new month his coverage will start on May 1, 2014 preventing any gaps in coverage

Scenario 3:

John’s employer terminates the group coverage effective May 1, 2014. John contacts us on May 15 and we submit an application.

Result: John can submit an application up to 60 days after the QLE has occurred. However in this instance his coverage will start on June 1, 2014 leaving him 1 month without coverage

As the above scenarios illustrate it is best to contact us about 30 days prior to the group coverage being lost (typically due to termination of employment, employer no longer offering health benefits, changing jobs, or dependent turning 26 and aging off parents plan).

Remember this is the only QLE that you can apply prior to the event occurring. All other QLE’s the event has to occur first then you have 60 days to apply.

Enrolling in Obamacare in NC outside of Enrollment Period

We are still getting a lot of inquiries for people looking for coverage. Times have changed with the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) in that you now can’t just buy coverage whenever you want. The initial Enrollment Period for coverage starting in 2014 was from October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014.

If you missed this enrollment period you will have to qualify under a “life event” that will trigger a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). In order to obtain coverage during the SEP you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

• Losing health insurance provided by your employer
• Recently moved
• Aging off of a parent’s plan (at age 26)
• Expiration of COBRA
• Losing a job
• Leaving incarceration
• Divorce
• Birth or adoption of child
• Gaining citizenship
• Losing eligibility for Medicaid
• Getting married
• Complex Situations (will be covered in later post)

Please note that you have a 60 day window to enroll during the SEP. We recommend that you contact us well before the event occurs, if possible, so that we can plan your enrollment process to make it a much smoother experience for you.
If you feel that you meet the criteria for an SEP please complete the form to the right of this article.

Obamacare – Who will it help, who will it hurt?

With Healthcare reform, also known as Obamacare, quickly approaching (less than 48 days), our goal is to help you understand the impact the law with have on you.  The law will change how you access insurance in the near future.  Whether you are for or against the law, it’s important to understand how it will impact you.  Each person’s situation is different, so the law’s impact will vary.

obamacare facebook ad v4


Please note, this is a discussion on your coverage and premium impacts, not a political discussion on what effects this law may or may not have on the economy.

Below are some situations that will be affected either positively and negatively.  Although these are not all the possible scenarios, these will give you an idea of what may apply to you.

Who will it help?  The following will likely see rate decreases or will now have the ability to purchase health insurance.

  • Those who were declined previously and could not get coverage in the private market. – This group will be able to purchase health insurance without worrying about being declined because of health conditions (pre-existing).  There will be no waiting period for pre-existing conditions either.
  • People who were rated higher than the standard rate – Those who were not declined, but charged more for their coverage will lose that excess charge when the new law starts.  Companies have several rate levels that are higher than the standard quoted rate.  These people will see that rate charge dropped because the law will not longer allow for rate increases based on the customers health.
  • Older people (ages 55 to 64) – this group will likely see rate decreases because of the age banding the law requires.  The age banding requires the premiums of a 64 year to be no more than 3 times that of a child’s rate.
  • Those who qualify for a subsidy (subsidy chart) – If your household size and income fall somewhere on this chart and you do not have access to affordable group coverage, you will likely qualify for a subsidy.  This will offset the premiums costs for coverage under the new law.
  • Families with more than 3 children – The rating structure of the law allows for premiums to include the cost of the three oldest children.  For families with more than 3 children, premiums will only include the cost of the parent(s) and the three oldest children.

Who will be hurt by the new law because of rate increases:

  • Healthy people – If your current premium is discounted based on your great health, you will likely see a higher charge for coverage under the law.  Since the law requires no rating for those with health conditions, it will also not allow rate reductions for those who are very healthy.
  • Younger people whose income is outside of the subsidy chart – If your income is above the 400% Federal Poverty Level, you will not qualify for a subsidy and will pay the full cost of the coverage.
  • Single people with high incomes – Single people with high incomes and no kids will likely pay more for coverage under the law.  They will not qualify for a subsidy due to the high income and the lack of children will not allow them to get a lower
  • Dependents who have access to affordable group coverage – If you have a spouse that has group coverage that is deemed affordable, you will not qualify for a subsidy and will either purchase coverage through your spouse’s employer or purchase coverage outside of the exchange.

If you have any questions, you can message us on Facebook or contact us through our website.  Again, our intent to not debate the pros and cons of the law, but to give an unbiased review of what options North Carolinians will have once the exchange opens.  Will it be good for some and bad for others; yes, but it will be here October 1st.   North Carolinians will need to know what their options are.

The first Annual Enrollment Period (when enrollment starts) will run from October 1st to March 31, 2014.  In order to get a 1/1/14 effective date, applications must be submitted to your desired insurance company by 12/15/13.  If you decide not to enroll in creditable coverage, you will be locked out until next year’s Annual Enrollment Period.  Certain Special Enrollment Periods (married, lose job, etc) will allow you to enroll in creditable coverage mid year.

If you feel the need for additional help, please complete our “Reserve Your Appointment” form on the right hand side of the website.  We will add you to our growing list of people to contact once the exchange opens.

Obamacare Explained in Video

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, is a very confusing and overwhelming law that has many people up in arms.  While many hate it, some love it, and some are indifferent the fact of the matte is as of today it is here and will be in full swing starting January 1, 2014.

As professional health insurance agents we aren’t here to defend the law.  Rusty and Kent’s role is to make sure our clients understand the implications and the benefits that this will impose on them.  In doing some research we came across this video produced by the Kaiser Foundation that we thought really did a good job of explaining the gist of what is coming

Take a few minutes and watch this video as it should clarify a lot of your questions.  Enrollment will begin in 53 days and will be a VERY hectic time period so if you would like to be on our list to follow up with to go over your options please make sure to fill out the appointment form on our home page.  Enjoy.


How Do I Buy On The NC Health Care Exchange?

One of the confusing factors with Obamacare starting in 2014 is how do you buy coverage on the NC health care exchange?  The main determining factors are whether or not you have health insurance options from an employer (either through you or a spouse) and what is the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for the household.

Here is a flow chart that tries to simplify this mess a little bit (click on picture to make bigger so you can see it):

obamacare flowchart v1

To determine if your MAGI qualifies you for a government subsidy click here.  Once this is determined then you will know whether or not you qualify for the premium reduction.  All this will be a pretty seamless process behind the scenes since you will not see the subsidy; it will just be subtracted from your monthly premiums.  These reductions for many will be substantial allowing for affordable coverage.

If you have employer coverage available chances are you would not qualify to buy coverage inside the exchange for anyone in the family.  Why is this?  Well by law your employer has to pay at least 50% of the employee’s premium.  With the employer covering such a high percentage this will make most employee’s coverage be lower than the 9.5% used to determine affordability by CMS.  We think this is a flawed measure by not counting in what it costs for the family to be on the plan….but it is what it is at the time.

Click here to learn more about your NC health care exchange options.

Do you qualify for a subsidy with Obamacare?

As we get closer to the start date for enrollment with Obamacare (October 1st), many people are starting to learn the ins and outs of how this will affect them.  Estimates are that 2/3 of North Carolinians will qualify for some form of subsidy under the new law.

How do I know if I qualify for a subsidy?

The subsidy calculation will be based on your household Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) which can be found on line 37 on your 1040 tax form.  This is NOT your total income of your household.  This number reflects certain deductions based on your tax return.  Obamacare uses the Federal Poverty Limit to determine who qualifies for a subsidy.  You can see if you may qualify by visiting our Obamacare Subsidy page.  If you have access to affordable coverage through work, you may not qualify for a subsidy.

How is the subsidy applied?

If you qualify for a subsidy, the health insurance company you enroll with will notify the government that you have enrolled and qualify for a subsidy.  You will pay your portion of the premium (total premium minus subsidy) to the insurance company and in turn the insurance company will receive the balance from the government.

What happens if my income changes?

For those whose income fluctuates yearly, a “claw back” could impact them.  If your income changes (either increases or decreases), thus causing a change of your subsidy eligibility; the government could claw back the subsidy when you file your taxes.  This process is called “reconciling.”  If you no longer qualify for a subsidy one year but received it, the government will add what you should not have received to your income tax bill.  On the other hand, if you did not receive the full subsidy you qualified for; that amount you did not receive would be added to your tax return.  In the event that your income does change (increases or decreases) you will have the opportunity to go into the system to adjust the subsidy during the year to ensure that you aren’t over or under receiving your allotment.

Click here to learn more about the subsidy and if you qualify.



When does Obamacare in NC start?

Open enrollment for plans offered through the NC health insurance exchange starts on October 1, 2013 with coverage starting on January 1, 2014.  This initial open enrollment period will run through March 31, 2014.  After this date enrollment periods for health coverage will coincide with Medicare’s open enrollment period each year which is October 15 – December 7.

Enrollment periods are an important part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  This will help prevent people (typically the healthy and fearless) from opting not to purchase coverage and only pick it up once they become sick or have an accident. This type of thinking wont help you to much since most likely your injuries or illness will already be cured once you are able to get coverage in place….or even worse once you are able to get coverage in place you are already bankrupt from the prior years medical bills.

Enrollment is crucial for everyone and there will be a lot of moving parts.  This is why it is beneficial to work with a qualified professional to help guide you through the nuances of the plans and enrollment process.

More to come!

With healthcare reform (often referred to as “Obamacare” in the media) fast approaching, this site will quickly ramp up to speed to help North Carolinians understand their options.  A tremendous amount of guidance continues to be released from the Health and Humans Services Department (HHS) each week.  This guidance gives us more details on how Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) will operated.  We in turn will digest this information and provide North Carolinians with information on how this affects them in plain English.  So bookmark us or sign up for our newsletter to be prepared for what is to come so you can decide on what’s best for you and your family.