For many Americans, the struggle to save enough money to cover unexpected expenses – like high medical bills – is real. In fact, unpaid medical bills is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States. That’s why having the right health insurance in place is a smart move.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment for individual health insurance is now well under way. Until January 31, 2021, you can enroll in a health plan through the marketplace to ensure you have coverage for any regular – or unexpected – medical costs.
However, there is another important deadline you’ll want to circle on your calendar. In order to get coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2017, you must submit your health insurance application before Dec. 15, 2020.
As we inch closer to the Dec. 15 deadline, now is the time to check out your options. Even if you already have health insurance, it’s a good idea to see if your current plan is still the right one for you.
Some insurance companies have made significant changes to their plans, including discontinuing several options. If your current plan is not available in 2017, you may have been automatically enrolled in another one without knowing it.
Reviewing your plan is the best way to make sure you know what you’re paying for and help you avoid surprises down the road.
To help you decide if you should love or leave your plan, answer these four questions:
1. Is your monthly premium squeezing your budget?
If you find it difficult to pay for your health insurance each month, you may want to shop around.
While you shop for a cheaper plan, keep in mind the lowest cost premium is not always the right option to choose. Plans that have a low monthly cost often have high deductibles. That means you may be responsible for a big portion of the bill if you get sick or have a serious injury.
For additional help, check to see if you qualify for a premium tax credit subsidy to help cover the cost.
2. Can you afford your deductible?
A deductible is the amount of money you pay out-of-pocket for care before the insurance company chips in.
If you get sick or injured, can you cover the costs of your deductible?
When comparing plans, pay attention to the estimated out-of-pocket cost, which is the amount you are likely to pay for the plan each year. If the costs seem uncomfortably high, you should consider choosing a plan with a higher monthly premium and a lower deductible to help balance it out.
3. Did your income change?
Whether you qualify for a premium tax credit is based on your household income.
Any changes to your income may affect your eligibility and the amount of money you receive.
To quickly see if you qualify for a subsidy, use TaxAct’s Tax Credit Calculator.
4. Has the way you use healthcare changed?
Health coverage needs vary based on your physical health.
Predicting your future needs is impossible, but think about the way you have used health care over the past year or two. Are there any trends? Did your plan cover most of your needs?
Now, during Open Enrollment, is the time to compare other available coverage in your area. You may find a different plan that better suits your budget and still meets your coverage needs.