With the open enrollment period for the Exchange beginning October 1, 2013, many questions are beginning to surface regarding how premium subsidies will work as individuals start to evaluate all of their options available to them.
Q1: It sounds like individuals who choose to buy health insurance on the Exchange will have to pay the full monthly premium for the coverage they choose and subsidies will be paid through tax credit that are received annual as a tax refund. How can a low income person who is living paycheck to paycheck afford this?
A: When consumers apply for a plan on the Exchange (aka marketplace), you will be asked to provide income information to determine if you are eligible for a premium tax credit (aka subsidy). A subsidy will be available to people with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013 or $94,200 for a family of four).
If you qualify for the subsidy, consumers can opt to receive their tax credits in advance, and the exchange will send the money directly to the insurer every month. This subsidy will reduce the amount you owe up front on your medical premium. You can also choose, instead, to receive your credit when you file your taxes the following year.
It is important to estimate your income as accurately as possible and to contact the Exchange during the year if you find out that you are making more or less than expected. When completing your 2014 taxes, your estimate will be reconciles with what you actually earned. If you have received more than you were due, you could have to repay those amounts.
Q2: What happens if I do not pay my premium in a timely manner after I have purchased insurance on the Exchange? If I am terminated from the policy, will I be able to have it re-instated?
A:Consumers who are receiving premium tax credit for coverage on the Exchange will have a 90 day grace period to catch up on late premiums. Other consumers who do not receive a subsidy may get more or less time, depending on the Exchange rules. Once the grace period has passed, consumers will generally have to wait until the next annual open enrollment period in the fall to re-enroll in coverage. Please note though, if an individual goes uninsured for more than 3 months, they could be assess a penalty for not having insurance coverage of up to $95, or 1% of income in 2014, whichever is greater.
Please contact our office for assistance with evalutating your options and obtaining coverage through the Exchange.