Final Countdown: March 31 Deadline Approaching for Health Care Marketplace Enrollment
Mar 05, 2014 | 1939 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

H&R Block finds three common tax-related misconceptions when consumers go to purchase coverage

Dallas, TX. – Tax penalty calculations, amount of advanced tax credit and plan coverage options are among the top concerns H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) licensed health care advisors have clarified for clients since open enrolment began on October 1.

For the last five months H&R Block has been helping clients enroll for health care coverage and will continue to do so until the March 31 deadline. Consumers need to enroll by March 15 for coverage to begin in April 1. For those who enroll later by March 31, coverage will begin May 1.

“The six-month open enrollment period is now down to just a few weeks for consumers to enroll and avoid a potential refund-reducing tax penalty,” said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president of H&R Block health care enrollment services. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Consumers should talk with a licensed advisor to get answers about their individual situation.”

Know the numbers

            The first thing consumers have asked about is the potential tax penalty, Ciaramitaro said. Most consumers are shocked to learn that their penalty may be more than the much-reported $95 per person. For many, the penalty would amount to 1 percent of their household income, which may be a much higher number.

For example, a family of four earning $70,000 a year would face a $497 penalty –$212 more than the maximum flat rate penalty. In 2016, the penalty will be more than $2,000 for that same family.

Clients also have been surprised at the amount they can receive in the form of an advanced tax credit to help cover monthly insurance premiums. Many also were unaware that they may qualify for cost sharing reductions, which lowers out of pocket costs for deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.  Clients who qualify for these reductions often find that they can purchase much better coverage with lower costs than originally thought. 

“Consumers really are leaving money on the table by not being aware of the full scope of their potential tax penalty, tax credit and cost sharing reductions,” Ciaramitaro said. “More than ever this isn’t the year to go it alone when making decisions about health plans or tax preparation.”

All H&R Block clients can learn more about the penalty potential during the tax preparation process via the company’s free tax and health care review. To learn more about the tax credit and coverage options consumers can access www.helpth.com or speak to a licensed health care advisor at 1-800 HRBLOCK.

Know enrollment options

            There are many avenues to access a health insurance plan, Ciaramitaro noted. However, not all come with personalized advice.  Even fewer enrollment services enable a consumer to compare all plans being offered both on and off the federal marketplace.

            When it comes to plan selection, Ciarmitaro said, consumers also should review several different elements besides cost, such as:

·         What are the deductible and co-pay obligations?

·         Does the plan include medicine someone is taking for pre-existing condition?

·         What hospitals and doctors are included?

·         Will dental and vision be included or is that an extra cost?

“Not all plans are created equal. Knowing the true cost of the plan and all potential out-of-pocket expenses are as important as the monthly premium,” he said. “Consumers will want to make their insurance work for them instead of them working for their insurance.”

H&R Block offers free, unbiased assistance in enrolling in health insurance nationwide. To speak with an H&R Block health care advisor, call 800-HRBLOCK (800-472-5625) or visit the website helpth.com. Individuals do not need to be current or past H&R Block clients, and do not need to provide tax information.

H&R Block health care advisors will continue to be offer enrollment services through March 31, when the federal and state marketplaces close.
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