You thought it was the holiday season, but it’s actually “Health Insurance Season.” With the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as “Obamacare”—enrollment period in full swing, it’s critical to discuss the issue and know your options. Whether you’re working a healthcare exchange or purchasing from the private market, here are some critical items to keep in mind while you bargain shop this season.
1. Affordable Care Act Deadlines
The deadline for individual enrollment is January 31, 2016. If you want to make sure your coverage will begin on January 1, 2016, then you should enroll by December 15, 2015. Otherwise, your coverage period will start on February 1. If you’re an employer who wants to offer coverage through the exchange, you have a bit more flexibility.
Whatever your situation is, make sure you have your application in and don’t delay. The government won’t likely extend the deadline as they have in years past.
2. Health Insurance Penalties
The penalty for not having valid health insurance in 2016 jumps to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, and maxing out at $2,085 per family. The income-based penalty rises to 2.5%. If you don’t have health insurance for the year, you must pay the greater of the two.
3. The Four Types of Health Insurance Plans
Understand the “metal” health insurance plans and the differences with each one. Essentially, you will have to choose between a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze plan with different benefits, deductibles, and of course, premiums. Generally, the Platinum plans provide the greatest benefits and lowest deductibles, but are more expensive than the other plans. At the other extreme, Bronze plans have a high deductible and are the most affordable.
Keep your anticipated health in mind as you choose the right type of plan for your situation.
4. Deduct Your Insurance Premiums
Don’t forget that, as a small business owner, your premiums are fully tax deductible. There are nuances based on your business’ structure, however, so I’ve created the embedded video below that explains how the process works.