We’re sharing this calculator created by the Kaiser Family Foundation with you.
You may be surprised to learn that subsidies are available if your income is low. This is especially important for you if you are in your twenties or thirties and just starting out in a career.
Pundits call you the Millennials, and the Invincibles. But accidents happen. People get sick. Health insurance is a good thing, and there’s no shame in taking a subsidy if you deserve one. Play around with the calculator to see where you stand.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you earn $30,000. That puts you at 261 percent of the poverty level for 2014. You qualify for a subsidy. So while you might be scheduled to pay $3,163 a year, you could receive a government subsidy of $651 and end up paying $2,512 a year.
So who needs to sign up?
If you don’t have employer-based insurance and are uninsured, you can begin to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) starting October 1st. If someone asks you to sign up before, or asks you for information in advance, it’s a scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating these ripoffs. But after October 1st, you can go online, make a phone call or write to an insurance exchange to find out how to get the insurance.
25 states agreed to participate in Marketplace Exchanges. They are getting money from the federal government to set up helplines and offer you options. The people who are providing the information are called Navigators and the Department of Health and Human Services gave $67 million to groups, mostly non-profits, to do the explaining. If your state isn’t participating, you can go directly to the federal government website: HealthCare.gov. Individual insurance companies and brokers are also available to explain the options to you. But be aware that brokers are not required to explain the full range of options to you, and there is the potential for fraud so you have to be very careful and ask a lot of questions.
Penalties for Not Signing Up
The idea behind the Affordable Health Care Act is to get as many people insured as possible to ultimately keep down health care costs. That’s why there are penalties for not signing up. Starting in 2014, your tax forms will ask whether you have insurance. If you don’t you’ll be fined $95 or one percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater. The penalties are expected to change over the next three years.
You have until March 31, 2014 to sign up. The insurance begins after you make your first monthly payment.