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How Much Does a Monthly Premium Cost in Your City?

You may have noticed that 2015 health plan premium costs vary. Most specifically, premiums vary by geographic location, and they are also dependent on how many plans are available in that specific area of the country. For example, someone in the state or county next door may have different plan options than you do.

For instance, take Illinois and Louisiana. This year there are 10 insurers on the Marketplace in Illinois and only five in Louisiana. The monthly premium for a benchmark silver plan in Louisiana is priced $81 higher than the benchmark silver plan in Illinois. As for choice, a search on GoHealthInsurance.com shows that a person living in Chicago has nearly three times the number of Marketplace coverage options than a person living in New Orleans.

Kaiser Family Foundation looked at the average premium costs across the country, pulling their data from the benchmark silver plans in one major city in each state. How expensive is the average premium in your city? Are you surprised by the varying costs?

 

2015 premiums by city FINAL 2

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Attention Small Business Owners: You may be eligible for greater benefits

Offering health insurance benefits to your employees may actually earn your business some rewards, too.

If your business plan — or your investment in the well-being of your workers — compels you to offer coverage even if you’re not mandated by the Affordable Care Act, you could be eligible for sizable tax credits. Want this win-win? Here’s how it works.

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The law dictates that businesses with more than 50 full-time workers must make health coverage available. But if your small business is smaller than that and you’d still like to offer your employees coverage, you can apply for tax credits to offset the cost.

Tax credits are available to businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and the smaller the staff, the bigger the benefit. Businesses that have up to 10 employees who earn $25,000 or less annually could qualify for the highest amount of tax credit. In order to be eligible, employers must cover half of the premium costs for each full-time employee. The business could qualify for a tax credit of up to half of the employer contribution.

Want to see if your small business qualifies for tax credits on employee health coverage? First, check off these requirements:

  • You employ fewer than 25 full-time employees (who work at least 30 hours per week)
  • The average annual employee salary is $50,000 or less
  • You cover at least 50 percent of each full-time employee’s health plan premium
  • Ask a GoHealth licensed insurance advisor how to apply for tax credits

There are other ways your business may save some money while offering affordable health plans to employees. Negotiating rates, offering individual plans, and investigating direct primary care may help your business cut costs.

Taking care of your employees and saving money at the same time doesn’t just help the bottom line; it builds a smarter, healthier business.

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4 Cold Weather Fitness Tips

We know, we know: Staying in shape during the winter is hard. Really, sometimes it feels impossible. When you combine a lack of motivation with frigid temperatures, it seems like there’s nothing to do but sit on your couch until summer comes around again.

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But this winter, things can be different. We’ve rounded up a few tips and workouts that can help anyone stay healthy all the way through the last snowfall.

Take advantage of the snow.

If you live in a climate that gets lots of snow every winter, use that fluffy, white powder to your advantage. Strap on some cross-country skis and go hiking through your nearest forest preserve, or lace up a pair of skates and hit your neighborhood ice rink.

Find your inner Zen.

Yoga is a great way to relieve stress and keep your muscles in top shape during those colder months. And it’s not just for adults: Kids love this exercise, too. Find a yoga class for the whole family at your local gym, or pop in a DVD at home.

Do some laps.

Think swimming is just for the summer? Think again. Indoor pools are open year-round. And not only is swimming a full-body workout, but it can also instantly relieve stress. Swimmers also tend to live longer than people who don’t exercise at all.

Take the stairs.

Want killer legs for next summer’s shorts and swimsuits? Say no to the escalator or elevator and take the stairs instead. You’ll burn more calories and have more energy to get through the rest of your day.

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What’s Next for the Affordable Care Act in 2015?

There are only a few weeks left until we reach February 15, the deadline to enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment. No matter if you’ve enrolled in a new health plan or haven’t yet gotten coverage, there are a few things that you can expect from the Affordable Care Act in 2015.

insurance card

Plans start to take effect – once you’ve paid your first premium.
Many people who enrolled in health insurance plans in December expected their benefits to begin on January 1. However, if you have not paid the premium for your first month of coverage, your insurance will not be active. Some people think they’re covered just because they picked a plan and completed an enrollment form, but you must make that first payment in order to activate your insurance benefits.

The uninsured population gets fined for the first time.
Some people are still unaware that they will be fined for going uninsured, but those folks will take notice when they file their taxes this spring. This tax season is the first time people will experience the financial consequence of the individual mandate. People who could afford health insurance but chose not to enroll in 2014 coverage will owe the government one percent of their income. When people see that money taken out of their tax refund, the individual mandate will finally start to sink in.

The tax penalty increases.
In 2015, the fine for not having health insurance increases to two percent of a person’s household income. For someone who earns $40,000 a year, the fine would be nearly $600. As the tax penalty becomes more severe, it’ll become a greater deterrent for people considering going uninsured. Fortunately, there is still time to avoid the tax penalty this year.

There will be confusion surrounding the tax penalty.
If you think filing your taxes has been confusing in the past, just wait until you see what happens come tax time this year. With the rollout of new tax forms concerning the Affordable Care Act’s tax subsidies and individual mandate, this upcoming tax season is going to be more complicated than usual. GoHealth teamed up with the world’s largest tax services provider, H&R Block, to prepare for this. Now shoppers can contact H&R Block for health insurance enrollment services, a tax and heath care review, and assistance with the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax subsidies.

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5 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

With 2014 quickly coming to an end, many of us are already starting to think about how we would like to improve ourselves starting in the New Year.

Every January, roughly one in three Americans resolves to better themselves in some way. While about 75 percent of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions for at least a week, less than half are still on target six months later.image_resolutions 2

Here are five simple tips to help you actually keep your healthy New Year’s resolution this year.

1. Focus on the positive

As you’re considering your New Year’s resolution, accentuate the positive rather than the negative. For example, rather than resolving to lose 20 pounds, your resolution could be, “I want to look better and feel healthier.” By putting a positive spin on it, the resolution will feel less like a restriction and more like an opportunity for change.

2. Make realistic goals

Set yourself up for success by making New Year’s resolutions that are attainable. Instead of selecting an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on.

 3. Create a solid plan

Choosing an achievable goal gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish your resolution over the course of the year. If you break up your resolution into smaller, manageable goals with a solid deadline, you will significantly increase your probability of success. While it may seem like a slow start, these small steps make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of long-term success.

4. Get support

Tell your friends and family about your commitment to your New Year’s resolution. The more people who know about your commitment to change, the more people there will be to help if you fall behind on your goals.

Having a solid support system can also help you stay motivated. Explain your goals to your close friends or family, and ask them to help you achieve your objectives. Better yet, consider joining a group for people who share your same goals.

5. Reward yourself

Following through on a New Year’s resolution is rarely easy, so reward yourself for achieving your smaller goals along the way. Choose healthy rewards, such as new workout gear or a relaxing massage, to inspire you to keep up the good work!

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FSAs: How to Use `Em So You Don’t Lose `Em

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are great options for millions of Americans every year. Although you might be able to carry over some of what’s left in your FSA into the new year, most of us probably have a few dollars left to burn before the end of 2014. There are the obvious ways you can spend the money, but we’ve come up with a few creative solutions to help you along.pharmacy

  1. Squeeze in a quick office visit. Dental exams and procedures, as well as eye exams, glasses, and contacts are generally covered by an FSA.
  2. Bulk-order your prescription drugs. If you know you’re going to need a specific prescription – or a few – for a definite amount of time, order more than one to use up those funds.
  3. Think outside the box. Going on a warm-weather vacation over the holidays? Sunscreen and prescription sunglasses are covered by FSAs. Other items, like contact lens solution and first aid kits, are also covered.
  4. Do a search. Popular shopping websites like Drugstore.com and Amazon.com have dedicated searches for FSA-covered products that you can purchase.
  5. Check with your HR department. Before you go crazy purchasing items covered by your FSA, confirm the amount you’re allowed to carry over into next year and if you are granted any grace period for spending.
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I Missed the December 15 Deadline: Now What?

There are always distractions around the holidays that keep us from doing what needs to be done. If you lost track of time and missed the December 15 deadline to get coverage that starts January 1, you’re not alone. Although this first deadline has passed, there are a few things to know to ensure you still get the best plan possible before Open Enrollment ends.woman with juice

  1. December 15 was just the first deadline – there’s still plenty of time to find the plan that’s right for you and your family. This Open Enrollment Period runs through February 15, 2015, so now is the time to browse your plan options and find the right coverage before it’s too late.
  1. If you bought an on-exchange plan last year and did not actively re-enroll by December 15, you’ll be automatically re-enrolled in that same plan. Don’t want to stick with that coverage? Not to worry: You can opt out of it and choose another plan any time before February 15.
  1. GoHealth is here to help you make tough enrollment decisions. Not sure how to opt out of your plan from last year? Curious whether there’s a better plan out there for you? Need an entirely different plan type for you and your family’s changing needs? Our licensed insurance advisors can help you enroll in the right plan and on time.
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Take action now! Save money on the health insurance you have or the policy you need

deadlineHave health insurance? Or have you been meaning to enroll, but just have not gotten around to it yet? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, an important deadline is coming up for you.

December 15, next Monday, is the final day to enroll in health insurance coverage so that you are covered beginning January 1, 2015.
If you already have a health insurance policy, you will also want to take note. December 15, is the deadline to review and make any changes in your policy to be effective on January 1. By submitting current information, you could be eligible for tax subsidies, which may translate to savings for you over the course of the year. There are dozens of new health insurance plans available for 2015. This is your window of opportunity to explore your coverage options to ensure you have the best value health plan.

What if I do nothing?
If you do not make any changes to your current health insurance plan, you will be automatically re-enrolled in the same plan or one that is most similar to it. With so many new coverage options available this year, your 2014 plan may no longer be your best option.

If you receive financial assistance you will receive the same amount that you did for 2014, and that amount is likely outdated.  That’s why it’s important to explore your coverage options now to ensure you start the new year with the best available plan for you.

What happens if you miss the deadline?
You’ll have to wait longer for your health insurance benefits to take effect. You will still be able to enroll in health insurance, which is required by law thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but your policy will not be effective until February 1 at the earliest.

Ready to get on it? Click here.

Need a little more info?

Here is a quick break down of your health insurance options.

Answers to your top 6 most-pressing enrollment questions 

Read 4 important reasons your generation needs coverage.

 

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5 Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

image_healthy vacationWith the holidays quickly approaching, many of us are already daydreaming about our upcoming vacations.  While vacation is a time to unwind, it can also be a time when we eat a bit more and exercise a bit less than we should.

If you are abandoning your healthy habits while getting away from it all, you may actually be putting yourself at risk for a weakened immune system and a higher chance of getting sick.

Get the most out of your trip by finding the right balance between splurging and staying healthy.  Here are 5 Tips to help you stay healthy during your upcoming holiday vacations:

  1. Build Your Immune System

Research shows that more than one in five plane passengers will catch a cold within a week of their flight.  Bolster your immunity by getting seven to eight hours of sleep for several nights before you leave, so you will be less likely to catch the sniffles.

Digestive problems are all too common when you’re on the road.  Consider adding a probiotic to your vitamin routine to keep your digestion in working order during your travels.  Taking probiotics for three days before a trip can help prevent stomach problems by keeping your GI tract healthy.

  1. Be Prepared

Along with your beach reading and sunscreen, be sure to pack a health kit in your suitcase, so you will be prepared for minor health problems.  Your health kit should include an antacid, an antidiarrheal medication, bandages, pain relievers, an antihistamine, and sanitizing wipes.  Also, remember to pack your vitamins and any supplements or prescription medications you take regularly, because abruptly stopping your supplement routine can throw your body out of whack.

  1. Food, Glorious Food

Take some time to plan where you will eat out, just like how you plan your vacation activities.  By checking out menus online beforehand, you will be more likely to choose healthier options.

You are on vacation, so allow for some splurges.  However, choose your splurges wisely.  The trick is to enjoy decadent foods and drinks in moderation: consider your favorite things and enjoy them, but pass on the things that you can easily get at home that add extra calories.

  1. Get Active

Lounge on a hammock all you want. Just be sure to get in some activity, too, or you will have extra pounds to take home as a vacation souvenir.  Set aside 45 minutes to an hour a day for physical activity. There’s no need for long, grueling workout sessions.  Instead, take advantage of your surroundings: go for a long walk on the beach, swim laps at the hotel pool, or find local hiking paths.  Most vacation spots have unique local sports or exercises, so this is the perfect time to try something new.

  1. Relax & Enjoy

Take some time to completely unplug.  Giving yourself some much needed time to disconnect will help you recharge and make the most of your vacation.

When you return home, ease back into your routine in order to avoid post-vacation syndrome. Taking an extra day off from work to slowly resume your usual activities and eating habits will help you keep your newly relaxed and rejuvenated attitude.

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The time is now: Your health insurance deadline is almost here

GH LogoDecember 15th, next Monday, is an important deadline for those of us who have a health insurance policy and those of us who need coverage.   This is the final day to enroll in health insurance or make any changes to the coverage you currently have so that it is all effective January 1st.

If you already are enrolled in a health insurance policy, the December 15th deadline is your opportunity to update your information, review the plan you have and make any necessary changes so your coverage is the best fit it can be for your family.

This is a win-win for you! Taking some time to look over your policy, speak with a licensed insurance advisor and plug in your financial information could save you money each month. You may be eligible for new tax subsidies you are not currently collecting. You may also find one of the many newly available plans offers benefits that will serve you well in the year ahead.

This is your window of opportunity to explore  your options to ensure you kick off 2015 with the best plan for you. If you choose to stick with the plan you currently have, you will be automatically re-enrolled in that policy or one that is as close as possible to it.

If you do not have health insurance coverage, this is your chance to enroll in a plan that will be effective January 1, 2015.  You and your children must carry a health insurance policy by law, according to the Affordable Care Act, or you could face a fine. Enrolling in health insurance by the December 15th deadline is your moment to comply with the law and commit to being healthier in the new year.

If you miss this deadline, the soonest effective date you can secure for a health insurance policy is February 1st.

It’s easy for all of us to make the deadline. Call (888)322-7557 today to speak with a licensed insurance advisor to enroll or review your plan, or click here to get a quote quickly.

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