I hope everyone is doing well, and successfully navigating the change of seasons. Hard to believe the holidays will be here soon!
Another indication of the season is an open enrollment period for many people to select benefits for next year. For those who obtain health insurance from a health insurance exchange, open enrollment for 2015 began on November 15, and runs through February 15, 2015. In Vermont, the health insurance exchange is Vermont Health Connect, which went live about a year ago for coverage beginning in 2014.
Note that individuals and families under age 65 who don’t have access to an affordable employer-sponsored plan, as well as all small businesses (50 or fewer employees) in Vermont, need to purchase health insurance through Vermont Health Connect.
You can visit Vermont Health Connect at https://portal.healthconnect.vermont.gov/VTHBELand/welcome.action
There are two types of health coverage offered through Vermont Health Connect – Medicaid (which includes Dr. Dynasaur for kids and pregnant women) and private health insurance. Private health insurance plans are called Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) because they meet federal and state consumer protection standards.
Your household income determines whether you qualify for Medicaid, or a QHP. Even if your income is high enough so that you do not qualify for Medicaid, you may qualify for subsidies to help you pay for the cost of a QHP. You can estimate your subsidy on the Vermont Health Connect website: http://info.healthconnect.vermont.gov/tax_credit_calculator
Note that if you already have insurance from Vermont Health Connect, your Vermont Health Connect plan will automatically renew for 2015 unless you hear from Vermont Health Connect that additional information is needed. If you’re happy with your current plan and don’t have any changes to report, you do not need to contact Vermont Health Connect.
However, you will need to complete and mail in the Change Report Form included in your Vermont Health Connect Renewal Notice or contact them by phone if:
Important: If you are making a change to your coverage, or enrolling for the first time on Vermont Health Connect, you need to enroll by December 15, 2014 for coverage starting January 1, 2015. If you miss the December 15 date, you can still enroll for a health insurance plan on Vermont Health Connect until February 15, 2015 – but if your current coverage ends on December 31, 2014 (as it will for most people), you will be left with a gap in coverage for at least a month (if you did not automatically renew with Vermont Health Connect, as described above). You should avoid a gap in coverage if at all possible.
Going to the doctor, treating illnesses and injuries, and paying for prescriptions can be very costly if you do not have health insurance. A health plan protects you from paying the full cost of care or prescriptions. In other words, health insurance is a way to help you pay for your health care so you can stay healthy, protect your wallet, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re protected.
Did You Know?
Without health insurance, a broken arm can cost you more than $7,500.
A three-day hospital stay can cost more than $30,000.
Also – under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), there are penalties for not having qualifying health insurance coverage. These penalties were introduced in 2014, but are much stiffer in 2015.
If you don’t have coverage in 2015, you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts:
I hope you find this information to be helpful. Feel free to forward to anyone who may benefit. Please contact me with any questions, or if you would like to discuss/would like assistance with any personal financial planning topics such as cash flow/budgeting, health care, taxes, insurance, investing, college/retirement planning, estate planning.
Note that planning tips and other info. are now posted on my website, http://www.truenorthfinancialplanning.com/, under Resources/Blog. Feel free check it out.
Thomas C. Dettre, CPA, MBA
President and Founder
True North Financial Planning, LLC
This information does not provide investment, legal, or tax advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.