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Getting the Most out of Your Health Insurance Plan

Congratulations, you’re covered! What now? Well, it’s time to take advantage of all that your health plan has to offer.  After all, you are paying for it and there may be hidden perks. Keep reading to find out how to save money, improve your health, and maximize your coverage.

Utilize Preventive Services
These days, health insurance plans offer preventive health services at no extra cost. Smoking cessation, vaccinations, and weight management may all be included in your plan. You can take advantage of these services to prevent future illnesses.

Schedule Your Annual Checkup and Ask Questions
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If you haven’t done so already, you should select a general practitioner (your “everything” doctor) who you can visit at least once a year for a routine physical. These annual checkups are aimed at ensuring that your health is in good shape and catching any signs of trouble early.

Before your visit, make a list of any questions, concerns, or any changes in your body that you might have noticed leading up to the appointment. From head to toe, no matter how small your question might seem, this is your chance to ask a medical professional about it. Want a mole looked at? Think you might have allergies in the springtime? Any itch, bump or spot can be looked at, and you should feel comfortable bringing it up with your doctor. It’s their job, so take advantage! If your doc can’t answer your questions, they can refer you to a doctor that will.

Reap the Benefits of Fitness and Wellness Discounts
It’s no secret exercise and a healthy diet is key to wellness. Insurance carriers have a vested interest in you staying well, so they’re willing to incentivize you to make health choices. Some insurance carriers offer discounts for things that can help improve your health, like gym memberships, fitness trackers or healthy meal packages. Find out from your insurer if discounts are available and take a proactive approach to your health.

Know Your Network
Whether you’re on a new insurance plan or the same one as last year, you’ll want to take a look at your coverage and understand the difference between “in-network” and “out-of-network.” It’s important to do this before receiving care or you could end up with a shockingly hefty medical bill.

If you receive care with doctors that are in-network then you’ll probably pay less money than for doctors that are out-of-network. Insurance companies negotiate deals with doctors and providers to create a network of physicians, so you pay less for a care within the network of your insurance plan. Many insurance websites have a search feature so you can see which doctors are in-network. If not, call your insurance carrier to find out.

With all the hype around health insurance these days, the ironic part is that you hope you rarely have to use it. However, with recent health care reform and built-in benefits, it’s a smart idea to use these tips to maximize the health plan you pay for every month.

 

 

 

 

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A College Graduate’s Guide To Saving Money On Health Insurance

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I Missed the Obamacare Deadline, Now What?

Health insurance enrollments surged over the past few months as millions of Americans sought affordable coverage before the end of the first open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Now, virtually all Americans are required by law to have enrolled in a major medical health insurance plan. If you’re just realizing this now, don’t panic. You can still obtain health coverage, but there are a few caveats.

Short-Term SolutionHospital Building
Fortunately, there are short-term health insurance plans available to tide you over until the next open enrollment period in November. Unlike major medical insurance plans sold during open enrollment, short-term plans require underwriting and may lack essential health benefits outlined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These plans do not cover preventative care or pre-existing conditions but they do cover benefits for unexpected medical care. Tragic experiences like a car accident, heart attack or cancer diagnosis can result in major expenses; short-term coverage offers financial protection.

Penalties Now Apply
If you have not signed up for a health plan this year, you’ll likely be subject to the tax penalty for lacking health coverage.  The fee is 1 percent of your household income or $95 per adult, whichever is greater. Paying the fee does not eliminate the need for health coverage – you’ll still be responsible for the entire cost of your health care services. With medical bills as a leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, obtaining short-term coverage can bring peace of mind and financial security.

Exceptions to the Rule
Certain circumstances may grant you a special enrollment period, allowing you to buy a major health plan with or without a federal tax subsidy. The health care law outlines “qualifying life events” which are life changes that make a person eligible for a special enrollment period, which typically last 60 days from the qualifying event.  These events include marriage, the birth of a child, losing your employer-sponsored insurance and moving to another state. Receiving a diagnosis or spraining your ankle on your morning jog doesn’t count as a qualifying event.

No Sense in Waiting
Understanding the complexities of the Affordable Care Act and enrolling in coverage under the new law can be a complicated and arduous process, but delaying the enrollment process leaves you in a vulnerable place – uninsured and liable for unforeseen medical bills. Licensed insurance advisors can explain your options and help you bridge the gap between open enrollment periods. The sooner you act, the sooner you’ll obtain coverage. Shop for brand-name coverage with GoHealth to find the right plan for you.

 

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Avoiding Tax Surprises: Affordable Care Act and Your Tax Refunds

As you scramble to finish filing your taxes or plan ways to spend your refund, our team at GoHealth wants to give you a heads up on how to avoid unpleasant tax surprises next year. The Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care reform law, has tax implications that could cause unaware Americans to unexpectedly owe the government money or to see smaller tax refunds than expected.Filing taxes

How Could This Happen?

If you signed up for Obamacare, you might have qualified for tax credits that you can use to lower your health insurance costs. The tax credit can be used throughout the year and it is based on your estimated household income and household size.

What some people don’t realize is that if your income increases in 2014 and you don’t adjust your tax credit, you are using more money than your are entitled to. The IRS won’t let you get away with that! You’ll have to pay back the money when you file your taxes in 2015. If you had planned on a big refund, this could be a major disappointment and put a stress on your finances.

What You Can Do

Communication is key to avoid unpleasant tax surprises next year. If your circumstances change throughout the year, contact a licensed insurance advisor (like a GoHealth Advisor) and let him or her know about changes to your household size or income — things like marriage, birth, increased wages — which can impact your tax credit. Your advisor can adjust your tax credit, so you can avoid surprises come tax time. Additionally, if your tax credit eligibility changes, you’ll likely qualify for an opportunity to enroll in a different major medical plan — one that better fits your new circumstances.

Let’s recap: if you used a subsidy to lower the cost of your health insurance, be aware of these life events and notify us if you experience any of them:

  • Increases or decreases in your household  income.

  • Marriage.

  • Divorce.

  • Birth or adoption of a child.

  • Other changes to your household composition.

  • Gaining or losing eligibility for government-sponsored or employer-sponsored health care coverage.

We’ll help you save money on health insurance and avoid shock come tax time.

 

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GoHealth Not Vulnerable to HeartBleed Bug

You may have heard about a recent security flaw, known as Heartbleed. It’s a global concern right now that has some people worried that information they’ve shared online will get into the wrong hands.

Heartbleed is a bug in a widely-used security system called OpenSSL which protects sensitive information on the Internet like passwords or banking information. Because of the defect, hackers can potentially steal sensitive information from websites that utilized the buggy version of OpenSSL.

Fortunately, GoHealthInsurance.com and its technology has NOT been affected by Heartbleed.

“People who’ve shopped with GoHealth can rest assured that their information remains protected. Our systems use a version of OpenSSL that is not vulnerable and we have verified that all of our information remains secure. We are committed to protecting every consumer’s data and will keep a close eye on any new developments regarding the bug,” said Shane Cruz, Senior Vice President of Technology at GoHealth.

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Complicated Cases That May Allow You To Buy Obamacare Outside Open Enrollment

Outside of open enrollment, you can only purchase Obamacare if you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). Most SEPs are granted for qualifying life events such as getting married, having a baby, or moving to a new state. However, there are also some complex cases that may also give you the opportunity to buy a major medical health plan (Obamacare) outside of open enrollment. Check out the list below to see if you may qualify.
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  • Complicated Cases
    • Exceptional circumstances
      • Ex. You faced a serious medical condition that prevented you for enrolling
    • Misinformation or misrepresentation
      • Ex. Misinformation from an insurance company or agent resulted in you enrolling in the wrong plan
    • Enrollment error
      • Ex. Your application was rejected due to missing data
    • System errors related to immigration status
      • Ex.  A processing error cause your immigration eligibility to be inaccurate when you applied for coverage
    • Incorrect Medicaid transfers
      • Ex. You were incorrectly advised to be Medicaid eligible
    • Victims of domestic abuse
      • Ex. You were not allowed to enroll and receive a tax subsidy separately with your spouse
    • Other system errors
      • Ex. You experienced other system errors that prevented you from enrolling
    •  Inability to complete enrollment before open enrollment ended

If you think you qualify for a special enrollment period, contact 888-322-7557 or visit GoHealthInsurance.com.

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Enroll in Medicaid or CHIP at Any Time

Last-minute insurance seekers rushed to buy Obamacare ahead of the nationwide open enrollment deadline, but not every American is tied to that deadline.  People who qualify for social health care programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can enroll any time of the year.

THE LOWDOWN ON MEDICAID
Individuals and families may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance coverage through Medicaid. This coverage is designed for some Americans with low-incomes, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Eligibility depends on income, family size and where you live.

Medicaid Expansion
Where you live could make a big difference if you are applying for Medicaid. Some states expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act so that more people are eligible.  In those states, if an individual earns less than $16,105 a year or a family of four earns less than $32,913, they will probably qualify for Medicaid.

In states that did not expand Medicaid, people who earn less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level may be eligible Medicaid. In other words, if you earn less than about $11,490 a year as an individual or about $23,550 for a family of four, you may qualify.

Apply for Medicaid
If you think you qualify for Medicaid, click here to apply.  If you earn enough money for private health insurance, start shopping for brand-name affordable coverage through GoHealthInsurance.com.

QUICK FACTS ON CHIPWomen's Health Week
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides low-cost health coverage to kids in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but have difficulty
paying for private coverage for their kids. Some states offer CHIP to parents and pregnant women. Every state offers coverage through CHIP and works closely through its state’s Medicaid program.

Benefits of CHIP
Coverage through CHIP varies by state, but all states provide comprehensive coverage, including:

·         Routine check-ups

·         Immunizations

·         Doctor visits

·         Prescriptions

·         Dental and vision care

·         Inpatient and outpatient hospital care

·         Laboratory and X-ray services

·         Emergency services

Apply for CHIP
You can visit www.insurekidsnow.gov, or call 1-877-543-7669 to see if your family qualifies.

 

 

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There’s Still Time to Complete your Obamacare Enrollment

Good news for health insurance-seekers who had trouble meeting the Obamacare deadline – you may get extra time to enroll!

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The federal government announced a grace period for Americans who had difficulties completing their enrollment by the March 31 deadline, so if you experienced technical troubles or long wait times that kept you from buying Obamacare, you’ll likely get a little leeway to complete your health insurance enrollment.

All you have to do is attest that you attempted to enroll prior to midnight ET on March 31 and you’ll find out if you get extra time to sign up for a major medical health insurance plan. People who enroll in a major medical health plan during the grace period will not face the tax penalty.

If this situation applies to you, you have a short period of time to complete your application (plan for only a few of days).  But don’t delay! Missing this opportunity means you will probably not get an opportunity to apply for tax subsidies and you’ll miss the opportunity to buy a major medical plan that covers pre-existing conditions and preventative care.

If you still need a health plan, GoHealth can guide you through the process and connect you with brand-name, affordable coverage today.

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Five Life Events that Let You Buy Obamacare After The Deadline

If you missed the deadline to purchase Obamacare, you may have another chance. It all depends on your situation. The health care law outlines “qualifying life events” which are life changes that make a person eligible for a special enrollment period to obtain major medical health insurance.

Here are the qualifying life events that could allow you to enroll outside of open enrollment:

  1.  Marriage
  2. Birth, adoption, or placement of a child in your household
  3. Permanent relocation to an area offering different plan options
  4. Change in income or household status that affects tax subsidy eligibility or cost-sharing reductions of your qualified health insurance plan
  5. Loss of other health coverage
    Examples include: job loss, divorce, loss of Medicaid or CHIP eligibility, expiration of COBRA coverage, a health plan becoming decertified.

Note: The following are not considered loss of coverage: voluntarily cancellation, termination of a health plan because of missing premium payments, or losing coverage that is not minimum essential coverage.

Special enrollment periods for qualifying life events typically last 60 days from the date of the qualifying event. If you believe you qualify, visit GoHealthInsurance.com to shop for brand-name quality coverage.

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The Deadline To Enroll in Health Insurance is Here!

The last day to enroll in a health insurance plan under that Affordable Care Act is March 31, 2014. That’s today! There has been some confusion over the deadline due to the federal government’s recent announcement that people who experience difficulty signing up for a health plan will get a grace period to complete their enrollment, but the details of this grace period have not been clearly defined.

deadline today

What do we know about this grace period?
The federal government’s grace period applies for people who reside in the 36 states that may utilize HealthCare.gov and experienced difficulties such as technical issues or long wait times while attempting to enroll before March 31 at midnight ET. In order to be granted this special enrollment period, consumers must attest under penalty of perjury that they attempted to enroll prior to the deadline.

The government has not clearly defined the time frame of this special enrollment period, so it is highly recommended that consumers make every effort to sign up for a health insurance plan before March 31 to guarantee benefits and compliance with the Affordable Care Act. If you still need a plan, start shopping for coverage as soon as possible at GoHealthInsurance.com.

What’s the significance of the deadline?
Completing your health insurance enrollment prior to midnight ET on March 31 will allow you to secure potential savings through tax credits, purchase a major medical plan with essential health benefits like prescription drugs and maternity care, and avoid the tax penalty for going uninsured. If you miss the deadline, certain benefits  may not be available to you until November 15, 2014 when the next open enrollment period begins. Anyone who chooses not to enroll in health insurance by March 31, may have face a fine. You can purchase a short-term plan after the deadline but those plans can be more expensive and have limited benefits.

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