The Health Insurance Marketplace is a brand new way to shop and buy health insurance online. And like anything new, you probably have many questions about how it will work. Answers to many frequently asked questions are below.
Beginning October 1, 2013, you can:
The Marketplace is a secure, online shopping portal, developed by the federal government. Starting October 1, 2013, you will be able to use the Marketplace to:
You will use the Marketplace portal, to apply for government help paying health insurance costs – as well as apply for coverage. When you apply, you will need to provide information about:
Have your tax return from last year on hand, so you can provide information on your income. The government will use your income to decide if you are eligible for tax credits to help pay monthly health insurance premiums or additional help with other health care costs.
In most cases, if you complete and submit your application for the Marketplace electronically, you will get an answer electronically about whether you are eligible for a tax credit or other financial help.
Anyone who needs health insurance can shop through the Marketplace. If you want to apply for a tax credit or other help from the government to lower your health plan costs, you must apply for and buy your coverage through the Marketplace.
If you already have health insurance coverage through your job, your family or a government program, you don’t need to buy coverage on the Marketplace, but you may want to use the Marketplace to see if you can get the same coverage for less, get better coverage, or get a break on the costs of coverage.
The tax credit is designed to help a wide range of Americans afford health insurance. Single people with an annual income up to $45,960* and families of four with an income up to $94,200* (400% of the federal poverty level) may qualify for the tax credit through the Marketplace. The tax credit is a fixed dollar amount each year and remains the same no matter which health insurance plan or company you choose. The federal government will determine if you are eligible and the amount of the tax credit once you submit your application to the Marketplace.
*Figures from Healthcare.gov.
You can start preparing to shop for health insurance now. You will be able to apply for and buy coverage on the Marketplace starting October 1, 2013 – the first day of Open Enrollment. You will have until March 31, 2014, when Open Enrollment ends, to buy coverage on the Marketplace.
Coverage you buy on the Marketplace by December 23, 2013, will go into effect on January 1, 2014. If you buy coverage after December 23, 2013, the start date of your coverage will be delayed.
|If you buy coverage…||Your coverage will start…|
|Dec. 16, 2013 – Jan. 15, 2014||Feb. 1, 2014|
|Jan. 16, 2014 – Feb. 15, 2014||March 1, 2014|
|Feb. 16, 2014 – Mar. 15, 2014||April 1, 2014|
|March 16-31, 2014||May 1, 2014|
The Marketplace will give you choices when it comes to health insurance. It will feature a number of plans, with different benefits and premiums, from several companies in your area. All the plans offered on the Marketplace have to meet specific requirements set by the government including:
You can send in a paper application, but you should know the process will take several weeks. The advantage to using the Marketplace’s online application process is that you will get an answer electronically if you are eligible for a tax credit or other government help to pay your monthly health insurance premium and other costs.
If you are eligible for the tax credit, it’s up to you to decide when to take it. You can take it in advance to help pay monthly health insurance premiums or you can claim the full amount on your tax return. There are pros and cons to each choice. A tax professional can help you decide whether you should take the tax credit in advance or not.
You should talk with a tax professional about this tax credit. He or she can help you better understand how much in taxes you may need to pay next year based on your income, and if and how much of the health coverage tax credit you should take.
The health insurance company offering the plan you purchased will send you your card and plan materials. So if you buy one of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s plans on the Marketplace, you will receive materials and your insurance card from BlueCross.
If you have questions or need help with the health insurance plan you bought on the Marketplace, you should call the plan’s carrier. So if you bought a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee plan, just call the Member Service number listed in your plan materials.
This is an estimate for a 2014 plan and does not include any cost savings you may be eligible for from the federal government. Your actual rate will depend on information entered in your application for coverage.
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