As a freelancer, do you ever think about healthcare coverage? How does the new Affordable Care Act impact you? What do you need to know, and where can you find this information?
Interestingly, most people won’t have to worry about the new Affordable Care Act. Since about 75% of the population receives health coverage through an employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, those people are not required to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
But what about those people without insurance? If you are a part of the approximately 15% of people living in the U.S. who don’t have healthcare, you may want to read this to get an idea of your options.
Let’s start with some good news. If you are young (under 26) you can still be covered on your parents’ insurance plan, so you don’t have to worry. Of course, if you become employed, your employer may offer an excellent insurance package. If you’re the spouse of a person receiving insurance through an employer, you may also not have to purchase Affordable Care, but have your spouse check with their employer to make sure the regulations haven’t changed with the introduction of the new law. Some insurance companies have changed the way they do things, so really the only way to know is to check with them directly.
Now for the bad news. What happens if you don’t purchase healthcare coverage by the government’s stated deadline? You will be expected to pay a $95.00 fine on your 2015 tax return, or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. This amount increases each year.
What about the deadline? You have to sign up by March 31, which is the last day of the open enrollment period which began October 1. You have to sign up by the 15th of the month before you want your healthcare to begin (e.g. January 15 for coverage on February 1). The exception to this was during December, in which the government allowed people to sign up as late as December 24 for coverage starting on January 1 due to website problems.
So how do you know if you are eligible? The best way to find out is to visit www.healthcare.gov, and also check out the Subsidy Calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Subsidy Calculator will let you know if you are eligible for any insurance subsidies from the government, which may help keep costs lower and make healthcare coverage more affordable for individuals and families alike. It’s important to remember that even if you are not eligible for healthcare subsidies, you may still be eligible for Affordable Care. With the healthcare website working more smoothly, there’s no reason not to check out your options.