Like Thanksgiving Day, Medicare Annual Election period (AEP) comes once a year between October 15 and December 7. I love Thanksgiving Day. I get to eat all those wonder foods that only come around once a year. We have this sweet potato casserole that I make myself sick on. I will again this year.
The 45 or so days that consist of AEP is another story. I’m not saying I dislike AEP, but it’s always a challenge for me. I enjoy getting to see my clients during this time of year. It’s fun to catch up and hear about all the changes that have taken place. It’s one of the perks of my job.
There are just a few day left to make sure you are in the best plan for 2016. I do hate the phone calls that come after the first of the year and the caller’s medicines are costing more than the year before because they didn’t check their plan. Don’t be one of those calls.
It’s also the time of year to change your Medicare Advantage plan or dis-enroll from it and return to Original Medicare and a Part D Rx plan. It’s the only time of the year to do this. Check out your options.
On November 15th, sign up for Individual health plans and Obamacare started. A lot of people are confused about how health care has changed. All plans expire on December 31 (even if you signed up in November) of every year now. They will renew on January 1st, but at a higher premium price than the year before. The annual sign up time for Obamacare gives you the opportunity to shop for new plans and lower premiums.
There are also time frames and deadlines to consider. If you want to shop for a new plan, you have to sign up by December 15th for a January 1 effective date. If you wait until December 16th to January 15th, your effective date will be February 1. Between January 16th and February 15th, March 1 will be your effective date. After February 15 you can only sign up if you qualify for a special election period, such as marriage, losing health coverage, adoption, etc.
The renewing premiums for 2015 have increase dramatically. Shopping other companies or raising deductibles will bring those premiums down to a more affordable price. One of the improvements of the marketplace this year is you don’t have to sign in to look at prices. This can save a lot of time and let’s you better plan for the changes you want to make.
And don’t forget about the penalty (tax). If you didn’t have health insurance in 2015, when you file your taxes for 2015 there will be a new form to be filed to reconcile the Affordable Care Act. The penalty will be the greater of a) 1.0 percent of income (net of specified deductions) or b) $95 per adult plus $47.50 per child, up to a maximum of $285 per family. However, the penalty is capped at the average cost of a bronze level health plan.
The percentage tax increases to 2 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016 and later years. The dollar penalty rises to $325 per adult plus $162.50 per child (with a family maximum of $975) in 2015; increase to $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child (with a family maximum of $2,085) in 2016; and is indexed for inflation in subsequent years.
In each year, the penalty is capped at the national average premium for bronze level insurance plans.
I don’t see any changes, repeals or significant overhauls to take place in the next year. Budgeting is going to play an important part of staying ahead in the coming years.
Any questions on Medicare or Obamacare just give us a call.