(This is a sponsored post discussing what you should know about health insurance – please see my disclosure for more details.)
Open enrollment just ended and 2019 is in full swing! If you’ve recently enrolled in health insurance, hopefully, you know a thing or two about your new plan. But if you’ve worked at the same company and have received the same health insurance year after year, it’s easy to just click a few buttons without fully reading the fine print.
Are you up-to-date with the latest news?
Knowledge is power and we’re here to discuss some of the most important 2019 health insurance trends—so that you can confidently make an informed decision about your provider and their packages.
What You Should Know About Health Insurance in 2019
You’re No Longer Required to Have It
You probably recall when it became mandatory to have health insurance after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed. Those who chose not to buy coverage would be penalized on their tax return—but not anymore!
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 repealed the “individual mandate” which required most Americans to have qualifying health coverage under the ACA. The repeal went into effect in 2019, meaning when you file taxes in April 2020, the penalty no longer applies.
Technically, the mandate is still on the books but the penalty is not.
You can Write it off Your Taxes
That said, just because you won’t get penalized for not having health insurance, doesn’t mean that you should take the risk of foregoing it altogether—especially since getting insured might be cheaper than you think. If you purchase health insurance through the ACA health insurance Marketplace, the IRS may supply you with Form 8962 which allows you to calculate and claim your Premium Tax Credit (PTC) on your tax return.
Based on your income and personal exemptions at the time you apply for healthcare, you may be notified that you’re eligible for this government subsidy. The PTC is a refundable tax credit designed to help eligible American individuals and their families obtain low to moderately affordable health insurance more easily.
If you don’t owe any taxes, you’ll be able to receive the full refund of the PTC, which could give you some more room in your budget planner.
You’ll Find Cheaper Premiums
Not only can you potentially claim the PTC on your return, which would lower your overall tax liability, but you’ll also find cheaper health insurance premiums across the board as you shop ACA exchanges.
These plans are divided into four categories:
- Bronze (highest out-of-pocket expenses for services but with lower premiums)
- Platinum (lowest out-of-pocket expenses for services but with higher premiums)
Generally speaking, the more you pay in in premiums, the lower you pay in cost-sharing such as deductibles and copays. According to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, average premiums are expected to drop in 2019 for the first time ever; for example, the average cost for the second-lowest silver plan premium will decrease 1.5 percent this year.
You can Enroll in Other Insurance All Year
The “open enrollment” period only applies to the health insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as the Exchange). This is where you go to apply for coverage, find out if you qualify for savings, and make changes to your plan. Note: This is different from the “private exchange” made available to you through your employer’s insurance.
To qualify for health insurance via the marketplace, you’re required to apply during the open enrollment period which starts November 1, 2019 and ends December 15, 2019 (a Special Enrollment Period exists for 60 days following certain life events, such as getting married or having a baby).
That said, you can still enroll in other insurance plans all throughout the year.
Life insurance is a completely different product which can be purchased at any time, but be sure you know exactly how much you really need before purchasing a plan.
If you’re still on the fence about health care coverage, I think it’s absolutely worth every penny—especially considering the lower cost and potential tax credit.
Assessing your future healthcare needs is one of the first steps on any early retirement checklist, but whether you’re a soon-to-be retiree or a recent college grad on a job hunt, budgeting for your health is critical all the same.
Stay on top of the industry news for 2019 and stay ahead of the curve in years to come to make sure you’re prepared for any curveball thrown your way.
Where do you turn for your healthcare coverage? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!