Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 09:10

The 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace is now open. To be covered as of January 1, 2018, you need to be enrolled by December 15, 2017. If you are already covered by a marketplace plan, your plan may or may not automatically renew. However, offers this piece of advice:

Note: Even if you’ll be automatically enrolled, it’s really important to log into your 2018 application and make any changes to your income, household information, or insurance status that have happened since you filled out your 2017 Marketplace application – or that you expect in 2018. You may have new options for 2018 that save you money, provide more coverage, or give you access to more doctors. By updating your information you’ll be sure to get the right options and savings for 2018. Open enrollment ends December 15, 2017.  Coverage will begin as of January 1, 2018.

Per the website, all 2017 Marketplace coverage ends as of December 31, 2017, no matter when it started. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, requires most taxpayers who can afford health insurance to be covered by a healthcare policy or be subject to a penalty, beginning in 2014. Taxpayers within certain ranges of income may qualify for subsidies to make their insurance coverage more affordable. If you are not already covered by a plan or are looking for a more affordable plan or just have questions about the Individual Mandate under the Affordable Care Act, you can use the following links to compare prices on qualified health plans and sign up for a plan that meets your needs and meets the minimum essential coverage required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

For those 65 and older - If you will soon be 65 and older, you may use this site to find information on signing up for Medicare.

For those under age 65 -  Use this link to to find out if you MAY qualify for a subsidy or premium tax credit based upon your household income and number of exemptions you will be eligible to claim on your 2018 tax return. Estimate your tax penalty if you and/or your family members are not covered by a health insurance policy during the tax year.

Note that if you are eligible to be covered under an employer-sponsored plan, you generally will not qualify for the subsidy or premium tax credit if the portion of the annual premium you must pay for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.56 percent of your household income. Be sure that you pay special attention to the answers to questions 7, 8 and 9 on this IRS Question and Answer page on the Premium Tax Credit. If you receive a subsidy during the year, but do not qualify for the Premium Tax Credit, you will have to repay the subsidy.

Also, pay special attention to the income you need to include in computing household income (Question 8). This is from the IRS's page: "For purposes of the premium tax credit, your household income is your modified adjusted gross income plus that of every other individual in your family for whom you can properly claim a personal exemption deduction and who is required to file a federal income tax return. Modified adjusted gross income is the adjusted gross income on your federal income tax return plus any excluded foreign income, nontaxable Social Security benefits (including tier 1 railroad retirement benefits), and tax-exempt interest received or accrued during the taxable year. It does not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI)."

To accurately determine if you qualify for a subsidy or premium tax credit, you need to answer the questions as truthfully as possible when applying for health insurance. This is the case whether you apply for coverage online through the website, through the DrakeHealth website, or by consulting an insurance representative.

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