2018 ACA Open Enrollment November 1, 2017 - December 15, 2017
What you need to know
If you're a contractor driver/owner operator and you do not have access to health insurance through your spouse's employer, are not eligible for medicare/medicaid and are ineligible for an exemption, then the Affodable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) individual mandate most likely applies to you. As a small business owner, making the proper healthcare decisions is crucial to you, your family and your business. The following are answers to questions asked by independent truckers.
What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Obamacare?
Affordable Care Act includes a mandate for most individuals to have health insurance or potentially pay a penalty for non-compliance. Individuals are required to maintain "minimum essential coverage" for themselves and their dependents. Some individuals will be exempt from the mandate or the penalty, while others may be given premium discounts (subsidies) to help them pay for the cost of health insurance.
When can health insurance be purchased?
You can purchase ACA compliant health insurance during open enrollment. Open enrollment for 2018 began November 1, 2017 and ended December 15, 2017. You can purchase health insurance outside of open enrollment if you have a "qualifying event". If this occurs, you have 60 days to enroll from the date of that qualifying event.
Where can you go to get help or enroll?
You can purchase medical insurance through your home state exchange or healthcare.gov - if your home state doesn't provide an exchange. You can also buy coverage from a certified insurance agent. The third option would be to get coverage from a "private" exchange or marketplace. Truckers Insurance Exchange is a marketplace for NAIT members and self-employed truckers.
What is the penalty for not having compliant health insurance?
The penalty in 2018 will remain at 2.5% of family income or a lower flat dollar penalty may be applicable based on your income. NOTE: The penalty for not having ACA compliant health insurance (i.e. individual mandate) ends beginning with the 2019 tax year. As stated above, penalties still apply for not having compliant health insurance in 2018.
Who qualifies for subsidies?
Some may be eligible for a premium discount or subsidy. Many self-employed truckers qualify for subsidies, but are unaware. For most, subsidies are based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) - so income minus deductions.
How are subsidies applied?
Most consumers receiving premium subsidies will receive it in the form of an advanced tax credit, with the subsidy applied directly to the cost of their insurance.
Which health plan is best for me and my family?
When you select and buy a health plan, in most cases you’ll have to keep that specific plan until the next open enrollment period. So it's important to choose a plan that meets all your needs. You’ll want to make sure the drugs and services you need are covered under your plan. If you rarely use medical services, a high-deductible low premium plan could be your best option. If you use lots of services, you’ll probably want a low-deductible plan that has lower overall out of pocket expenses to you.
No matter what plan you get, most basics – like an annual checkup, immunizations, preventive tests, and more – will be covered with no out-of-pocket costs to you - so covered at 100%.
Should I auto-renew my existing health insurance?
NO! You may not even have the opportunity, as a shocking 1.4 million people will lost their existing plans in 2017. The exit of Humana, United and Aetna have many looking for new health plans, but even if your insurer is still offering you a plan, you are encouraged to shop around for a better deal.
I'm currently receiving a subsidy, when do I need to report a change to my income?
If you're like many self-employed people, your income may fluctuate during the year - or you may have a change in circumstances like a marriage, a new baby or perhaps your spouse took on a new job. All these events can affect your subsidy level. Just because someone qualified for a certain subsidy at the beginning of the year doesn't mean they are ultimately entitled to it. It's the total annual income that matters, so if you experienced a mid-year change, some or all of your subsidy may have to be repaid.
The bottom line is, try to report a change when it occurs or at the end of the year heading into a new plan year. Remember, your health plan will use last years income if you report no change. For some, that may be ok, but for others, that could mean a sizable tax owed the following year.
How can TIE help me find health insurance in 2018?
If you're like most, you're looking for ACA-compliant health insurance. However, many have found premiums to be unaffordable or have gone without health insurance for another reason. The bottom line is, we can probably help you be either getting you enrolled in ACA-compliant health coverage or finding you an alternative.
Note: alternatives are not considered compliant and tax penalties may apply.
To Learn More Call 833.843.6248