Most Have One Week to Purchase Coverage for 2014
Austin, TX - March 24, 2014 (myPressManager.com) --
American consumers have only one week remaining in the current calendar year to enroll for and purchase health insurance before the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) March 31, 2014, deadline for enrollment. Failure to purchase by the deadline may result in a tax penalty as well as potentially devastating medical costs due to the lack of coverage for the remainder of the year. As the deadline approaches, experienced benefit professionals are available to assist individuals and families — a service that does not add to the cost of a policy.
Using a benefit professional to assist is a service that most do not realize is available with no cost to the consumer. Fees paid for the services of professional benefit advisers are built into the cost of an insurance premium and paid for by insurers, meaning the cost of purchasing a policy will be the same for a consumer who uses a benefit adviser as one who does not.
"Many people have delayed making a decision about their coverage, perhaps feeling that health insurance is too complex," said Mark Bellman, president of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters. "But the time for decision-making is now. Fortunately, health insurance agents can simplify the issue. They will sit down and help customize coverage to meet each person’s medical, financial and family needs."
"Benefit professionals offer the same service to business owners," he said.
When the six-month open enrollment period concludes at the end of this month, there will be no more opportunities to purchase ACA-compliant coverage for the rest of 2014.
The only exception to get coverage this year will be for someone experiencing a "qualifying" life event, such as marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of employment. Bellman noted, "At this point the federal government has given no indication there will be an extension for the 2014 enrollment period."
Anyone who can afford health insurance and does not obtain coverage will face a penalty of $95 or up to 1 percent of household income, whichever is higher. The next enrollment period, beginning in November, will be for coverage in 2015.
"The six months of open enrollment have had their share of obstacles," Bellman said. "First, the federal health care computer system faltered when enrollment opened Oct. 1. Also, many consumers say they lack sufficient information about the ACA to make major decisions. So it’s not surprising that some consumers have taken their time, he said, or found it difficult to understand all the components of the new health care program."
Benefit professionals throughout Texas can explain all the options, he said. "Our members are licensed, well-trained and experienced at helping consumers make informed choices. The decisions made this last week of enrollment might determine how well individuals deal with a future injury or illness."
Staying healthy is vital, he said, because an injury as common as a broken arm can cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. Treating a serious illness such as cancer easily tops $100,000. Beyond cost savings, another advantage is that ACA-compliant coverage now covers preexisting health conditions.
Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) is a state trade association representing licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals who serve the health insurance needs of employers seeking health insurance coverage. TAHU is a state chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters.