Friday, October 18, 2013

The Affordable Care Act is in effect and for many, taking action is what it is all about in order to get health care.  For some who never have had health care before, it may be a breath of fresh air. For others it is very overwhelming as it is a lot of new information to digest.  For those who have had health care all along, it can also be a confusing time.  

If you receive medical benefits from your employer, you will be receiving updates from your employer about how your benefits change as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  You may need to be patient to receive information as not all companies have all the information yet.
If you are an individual on your own trying to get coverage or are self-employed, something that you may not have considered is to start weeding through all the information on crafting the package that best suits your particular situation.  Not all situations are created equal.   

Did you know it all has to do with your previous year’s income tax return if you are looking into subsidies?   Talk to your tax person and dig deeper. 

For all questions and concerns check out:
First you need to consider what state you live in and if your state affects your situation and choices.  Some states have their own websites, too. 

Also – beyond just health insurance, you are probably re-examining your household budget and making said adjustments as a result of this new health care reform.

Did you know that your AUTO INSURANCE medical coverage also needs to be taken into consideration?   None of the many health care sites will tell you this.  As you well know – auto insurance is NOT THE SAME in every state.  Rates are different. Packages are different and medical coverage under said plans are different state-to-state.  And this may be something you factor in as you consider your household budget with this new Affordable Care Act in place to balance out your expenses for your coverage.

You need to look into your auto policy.  How much medical coverage do you have?  Does it overlap with your medical benefits?  Are you paying too much for this coverage now as a result of the Affordable Care Act coming into play?    

Does your auto insurance policy for hospitalization cover only you or does it cover your passengers and HOW will that look once you take a good look at your plan and expenses?  Do you keep this component of your auto insurance policy?  Decrease it to save funds because your health coverage is enough?   This all varies depending on the kind of coverage you have.  Not every situation is the same because of geography, packages, your customized auto policy for your household and also how you use your car.  This also could look differently to some whether their automobiles are used only for personal use or business use – some have vehicles they use specifically for their own businesses.    

What you need to consider is all of the above and factor in how you dissect your coverage.
If you are a business – C Corporation, S Corporation, LLC, etc. – you may also need to look into the Small Business health care plan coverage options and weigh them against the policies set for individuals.  If you are a family owned business and it is the family who is employees – this new Affordable Care Act can affect you in different ways depending on these separate medical coverage package options.  Sometimes getting the package as a business may be better for some than everyone getting coverage as an individual. 
Also what you need to consider is TAXATION. Contact your accountant who is familiar with your annual tax returns for more information as they are familiar with your income and household situation.

 There are tax credits affiliated with the Affordable Care Act and there are subsidies.  But this is not an across-the-board easy thing to understand because it is all based on INCOME.   Depending on the income bracket you fall under – and how you are set up as a household could also affect what you are able or unable to do.  

What tax offices are saying now is that your last year’s tax return is what qualification for certain programs is based on.  And this can vary state to state.   If you have income which fluctuates, you will owe back money.  This could come as a huge surprise and hit you hard in the wallet if you do not prepare ahead of time as your income changes throughout the year.  This particularly affects seasonal job folks who have to ride the feast or famine train when work has ebbs and flows. 

Each health care provider is different – it goes far beyond the HMOs and the PPOs to understand. Co-Pays and deductibles need to be weighed much like before but now with all the other factors put into consideration.

Your best bet is to take time to carefully research all your options and take your own personal health scenario into consideration in order to weigh which options work best for your particular financial situation as well as any business situation you may have yourself tied to via taxes and auto.  For some, it is all tied together. 

Be diligent about keeping notes.  And if you are confused, do not hesitate to make several calls or talk to someone else if you are getting flimsy answers. This is not a time to ‘guess’ – it is about making sound decisions so you don’t get stuck with having to owe money you did not anticipate or plan for based on wrong information or selecting a plan or package that is not best suited to you. 

Do not get frustrated.  Everyone is learning as they go. But the more information you gather and see that the facts which apply to your particular situation are not cookie-cutter for everyone, you’ll be able to customize the right plan to choose for yourself and your family. 

~ Athena & Tess – We Solved It


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