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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for Health Insurance

By TaxAct

Shopping for health insurance doesn’t have to be hard if you’re prepared. It can take just a few minutes to shop and enroll in a plan that best fits your needs.

When shopping for health insurance, these are the mistakes you should avoid.

Overlooking the details of your coverage

Not all health plans are created equal. Make sure you think beyond the premium costs and dig into the details.

Start by asking yourself these four questions:

  • Is your preferred doctor in your plan’s network?
  • How much do office visits cost?
  • Can you afford the deductible?
  • Are your prescriptions covered?

Think about how you use healthcare in a typical year, and choose a plan that covers the services you need.

Bypassing a tax subsidy

Subsidies, or premium tax-credits, can help you afford health coverage. Your prior year household income determines the amount available to you.

Each year, many people who enrolled in individual coverage qualified for a subsidy.

Before agreeing to a plan, take the time to find out if you qualify for a subsidy. It takes just a minute to calculate your eligibility.

Refusing to enroll 

Going without coverage can cost you more in the long run than simply paying for a plan that covers the basics.

Even if you are generally healthy, it’s a good idea to protect yourself in case you are injured or become seriously ill.

An average emergency room visit is $2,000 if you don’t have insurance. That’s a large chunk of change!

And, aside from putting yourself at risk of paying the full cost of care, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties for going without coverage are quite significant.

For tax year 2017, individuals who didn’t have coverage for three months or more will face fines of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5 percent of their yearly household income – whichever is higher. The maximum penalty is $2,085 per household. The penalties for not having coverage in 2018 have not been announced.

Shopping for health insurance at the last minute

Selecting your health coverage is a big decision. That’s why it’s important to review your options early on. Rushing to choose a plan can lead to mistakes.

If you procrastinate, you’ll likely experience longer wait times if you end up needing help throughout the process. That leaves you with less time to make a decision.

Plus, your application may not be processed in time. That could leave you with no coverage at all.

The lesson here? Plan ahead! Start researching your coverage options right away.

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