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March 2014

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The Most Important Deadline of Obamacare

By | Health Insurance, Health Reform

disabled-72211_1280Despite the seemingly wall-to-wall coverage of Obamacare, many people, particularly the uninsured, are unaware of a key deadline looming on the horizon — March 31, the final date to sign up for health insurance through government websites and avoid a financial penalty.

According to a February poll from the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, 75 percent of uninsured American are unaware or misinformed about the March 31 deadline.

As it stands right now, healthcare.gov and the state-run insurance exchanges will shut their virtual doors at midnight on April 1 and remain closed until next October — when the exchanges will open again to start selling policies for 2015. Those left out in the cold will not only be uninsured, they will also be assessed a financial penalty of $95 or 1 percent of their income — whichever is greater. This means that a person making $30,000 will have to pay a financial penalty of $300 that the government will take through that person’s 2014 federal income tax filing.

Extending the Deadline

The government has offered an extension called a Special Enrollment Period for persons in certain extenuating circumstances. According to healthcare.gov, a person qualifies for “a special enrollment period of 60 days following certain life events that involve a change in family status (for example, marriage or birth of a child) or loss of other health coverage.”

This means that if a person gets married or loses their job in June or July, they will have the ability to pick up coverage for 60 days after their “status-changing” event.

soldier-60707_1280There are some uninsured people who don’t have to worry about the March 31 deadline. Those who don’t make enough money to file a tax return would qualify for Medicaid. Also, veterans are covered under the VA.

Given the Obama Administration’s history of extending the deadlines associated with the President’s signature law, some are predicting that the March 31 deadline will be pushed back as well. According to a poll released by Bankrate in January, 62 percent of respondents said they believed the March 31 deadline would be extended. However, with only about a week left to go and no word from the government, it is unlikely the deadline will be extended. Avoid the penalty, visit www.Health-Life-Dental-Insurance.com or call us at 1-800-257-1723.

Getting Insured After March 31

If this deadline is not extended, uninsured individuals can still get policies outside the government-run insurance exchanges — like the policies available at Health-Life-Dental-Insurance. These policies can be purchased throughout the year, regardless of life events.

Health-Life-Dental-Insurance offers two alternatives to the healthcare exchanges: fixed benefit and short-term health insurance. The fixed benefit plan is a zero-deductible plans for those who prefer to pay cash for their medical expenses, while the short-term plan is for those without a severe illness. Even with paying the penalty, the alternatives might still be a more affordable option compared to Obamacare.

The Uncertainty of Obamacare: How Much Will It Change?

By | Health Reform

Doctor showing medical chart to patient who is lying in hospital bedLast week, two significant developments are set to impact the law known as Obamacare. Last Wednesday, the White House announced the extension of the so-called “Keep Your Plan” fix beyond the initial October 1 deadline and on Thursday, a top official linked to the health care plan, announced his resignation.

Constant Obamacare Changes

Critics of the administration categorized the extension as an election-year fix designed to protect Democrats in the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections. The initial fix was announced back in November — when millions of individuals began receiving cancellation notices for their existing insurance policies. These policies were cancelled because they provided minimal coverage and didn’t meet the regulatory standards set by the Affordable Care Act.

The November fix extended previously-cancelled plans for one year. However, because cancellation notices must be sent out 90 days prior to a policy being cancelled — these notices would be sent out in September, just as the mid-term congressional races are heating up.

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“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” a health insurance industry source told The Hill. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”

In extending the fix, the move is simply the latest in a long line of changes to President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation. Supporters and critics of the president alike point out that all of these changes had developed an air of uncertainty to the law. And, if this pattern of changes continues — the law may be unrecognizable in a year or two.

In February, the Treasury Department delayed a part of the law that required employers with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance for their full-time workers or else pay a penalty. Also known as “the employee mandate,” this part of the law was delayed one year, to January 1, 2015.

In November 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that an online marketplace for small businesses looking to provide coverage would not open for one full year. The delay in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) means that small businesses in 36 states looking to provide coverage for their workers must go through independent brokers or use paper applications. If you are a small business or group looking for insurance, please contact us, www.Health-Life-Dental-Insurance.com to make the process smooth and seamless.

An Unusual Resignation

Last Thursday, Gary Cohen, an official who has played a major part in the roll-out of Obamacare, resigned. The former Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight is expected to be replaced by Mary Cohen, but the move reinforces the idea that the ACA and those around it are in a constant state of flux.

Source Links:
http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/199784-new-obamacare-delay-to-help-midterm-dems
http://inhealth.cnn.com/making-healthcare-decisions/understanding-delays-in-the-affordable-care-act
http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2014/02/12/28-delays-and-counting-to-health-reform/
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/06/politics/obamacare-resignation/