By now, everyone has heard of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. Everyone is required to have a health insurance plan, including superheroes.
Beginning in 2014, persons without health insurance will face a penalty of $95 or 1% of your yearly household income, whichever is higher. For someone who is uninsured for only part of the year, 1/12 of the total penalty is applied to each month you are uninsured. This has a significant impact on young adults as approximately 25% of adults between 18 and 34 years old are uninsured. If you are one of the 25%, you have several choices to make regarding your health insurance in 2014.
Unfortunately, the March 31, 2014 deadline to sign up for coverage using the government run marketplace exchanges has come and passed. For students focusing on mid-terms, or accountants preoccupied with tax season, thinking about the ACA requirements and options for coverage was likely not a top priority and you may now find yourself scrambling to get coverage. Before you go looking to purchase insurance, consider if you can join your parent’s insurance plan. The age to remain on your parent’s policy increased to 26, regardless of whether you are in school, married, or eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan. However, you still need to enroll in these plans and you are not automatically covered simply because you are less than 26 years old.
Another option may be to obtain insurance through your employer. If your employer does not offer a plan for 2014, make sure to check again next year as companies with more than 50 employees are required to offer health insurance beginning in 2015.
Although the open enrollment period for the marketplace exchanges has closed, you may be able to get coverage if you have a “qualifying life event.” These include marriage or divorce, having a baby, moving your residence, or losing other health coverage. A qualifying life event may allow you to join your employer’s plan if their open enrollment for 2014 is closed as well. You can also purchase individual insurance directly from a provider. Just make sure it meets the minimum essential coverage as defined by the ACA.
An alternative option is to remain uninsured. If you are a single adult and make less than $19,650 in 2014, you will pay the flat fee $95. If you make less than $10,150, you will not owe any penalty. While this may seem like a reasonable option in 2014, the fees will increase in the coming years, making it more expensive to go without insurance.
If you are still not insured, put this on the top of your priorities list and make sure to examine all of your options closely, recognizing the risks and fees associated with each one.