January 31st: Ensure that You’re Covered Before the Deadline for Health Coverage
It’s that time of year again, so make sure that you have health coverage! The deadline for 2017 is coming up on January 31st. Since having coverage became mandatory in 2013, the number of people without insurance has dropped every year, particularly among low-income adults and Hispanics. Why are you uninsured, and why should you be? Read on to find out.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Texas had the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the U.S. Since the Affordable Care Act’s passage, the number of uninsured citizens has been reducing throughout the country, yet, Texas still ranks first in uninsured citizens. Even though insurance became a prerequisite to have, the reasons for not having it vary.
Why Aren’t You Covered?
Many adults in this country get their health coverage through an employer, but that’s not the case for everyone. Many claim their reason for not seeking coverage is the expensive prices for a policy. Now, though, financial assistance is available for those who qualify, and Medicaid is an option for some as well. And there are still people who fit in the gap where they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for premium tax credits from the Marketplace.
Do I Need to Sign Up?
If you’re wondering if you need to sign up for healthcare as a United States citizen, then yes, you do. Even those living abroad need insurance coverage. Unless you’ve resided outside of the country for at least 330 days within a 12-month span, then you won’t need coverage by January 31st.
There are certain situations where you can qualify for an extension called a “Special Enrollment Period”, or SEP, that gives customers an extra 60 days to enroll in the Marketplace. Some factors that qualify citizens for an SEP are:
- If you’ve lost your health care coverage
- If you’ve moved
- If you’ve recently married
- If you’ve had or adopted a baby
The Consequences of Not Enrolling
The penalty for not signing up for health coverage can be $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5% of a household’s income. The higher the number, either from income or the set price, determines the penalty amount. However, a lack of coverage can mean facing unaffordable medical bills, and to those with low to median incomes, this could mean having medical debt that can take decades to pay off. The only factors determining not having to pay a penalty include:
- If you’ve filed for bankruptcy at some point in the previous year
- If you were evicted from your home or it was foreclosed
- If your Marketplace plan was cancelled
- If you are a member of a federally recognized tribe
- If you are an Alaskan native
- If you are eligible for services through an Indian Health Provider
Call Us Today
Lacking health coverage can lead to serious consequences for your finances if you should happen to need medical care. Delaying preventative care for yourself can result in serious illnesses requiring advanced treatment. Even common or easily treated conditions that go overlooked could become serious. Also, as noted earlier, the financial consequences for not having health coverage by January 31st could be very costly. Contact our insurance agents in Harlingen today so we can help you find a plan that fits your budget and needs.
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