October 1st arrived with great fanfare as the new “Marketplaces” (nee Exchanges) launched. At last, a light at the end of the health insurance tunnel.
Have you tried to log on to your state’s “Affordable Care Act” website?If you were successful, take a giant step to the front of the class to receive your gold star. But for the rest of us, that light at the end of the tunnel is attached to a big locomotive and it is quickly bearing down on us. If you are not covered by “Minimum Essential” health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014, you may be subject to a fine (or as Justice Roberts decreed, a “tax”).
If you are a younger person, not insured now, not planning to enroll, but intending to just pay the tax because it is less than $100.00 during 2014 tax year, think again. The initial tax penalty is equal to the higher of 1% of your prior year’s income or $95.00 per adult plus $45.00 for each child, up to $285.00 per family.
Starting in 2015 the penalty tax goes up to $325.00 per adult plus $162.50 per child up to the higher of $975.00 or 2% of your 2014 family income. After that the tax increases again to the higher of 2.5% of prior year’s family income or $695.00 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2,085.00 per family.
The penalty kicks in on Janaury 1, 2014. So, if you change your mind and then enroll in March 2014, you may be accessed a penalty tax for the portion of 2014 while you were uninsured. Also, keep in mind that 2014 enrollment period for Obamacare ends March 31, 2014.
Projected monthly premiums for the Affordable Care Act’s Bronze, Silver,Gold,and Platinum plans are considerably outside most people’s comfort zones. Your decision is whether to take food off the table to pay health insurance premiums, or skip the insurance and take food off the table to pay the penalty tax. “Change you can believe in” can get to be pretty darn expensive.
October 1, 2013 is opening day for you to enroll in your choice of four (4) health insurance policies demanded by the Federal Government, whether you want it or not. Once you enroll, your new health insurance goes into effect on January 1, 2014…and you must want it as a majority of you voted to keep the Federal mandate back in November 2012.
If you already own individual(or one covering you and your family) health insurance now, meaning you are not covered by health insurance provided by your employer AND if that health insurance policy went into effect before March 23, 2010 AND if you have made no changes to your policy since then, your insurance policy is “Grandfathered”. If you own a grandfathered policy, you may keep it, and you can skip enrolling in one of the Federal Government mandated plans.
If you already own individual(or one covering you and your family) health insurance now, meaning you are not covered by health insurance provided by your employer but such health insurance was effective AFTER March 23, 2010, your health insurance policy is NOT grandfathered, and you are required by the Federal Government to replace your present health insurance, on or before it reaches its anniversary date in 2014, with new government mandated coverage.
All is not lost, however, and there is a way to postpone being forced to buy Federal Government health insurance if you now own non-grandfathered individual health insurance which you wish to keep for a bit longer.
Contact your present health insurance company and ask them if they would be willing to renew you current policy in December 2013 to December 2014. Assuming your present health insurance company is willing to grant your request, expect your premium to increase some, as it does every year as your age advances. That gives you all of next year to keep the health insurance you like and to settle on which of the forced Federal health insurance plans you must purchase for 2015.
The four new Federal Government mandated health insurance policies will be provided by commercial health insurance companies; however, age, the area you live in, number of people in your family and whether or not you smoke, are the only factors which may be used to calculate the premiums starting January 1, 2014. As a person’s health history is no longer a factor in setting premiums, expect premiums over-all to Increase. As we age, statistically, healthcare costs rise…because older age generally means more trips to the doc. (Healthy older folk keep the statistics in balance.) I expect premiums will increase sharply for younger adults but may not rise as much for those fifty and older.
Until now, if you were in poor health your premiums were higher, to recognize the extra claims risk being assumed by your insurance company…or you may have been unable to qualify for health insurance at all. Health insurance companies, as any other business enterprise, must operate at or above break-even level or go out of business. They could have offered health insurance to everybody, regardless of health history, all along but premiums would have been over the roof and nobody would have bought their product. Now the Federal Government demands that health insurance companies cover everybody, and it forces you to buy a product or pay a cash penalty at a cost you would have rejected in a free market.
To partly offset the Federal Government mandated health insurance premium costs, those of you earning less than four times the federal poverty income level*, will qualify for a partial premium reduction in the form of a tax credit…meaning part of your premium will be paid by you and the remainder (the tax credit) will be paid directly to the health insurance company by the federal government…read, your neighbors down the street.
The amount of the tax credit will depend upon the actual premium required by the health insurance policy selected, amount of household income, and other factors. Starting October 1, 2013, to determine if you qualify for a premium tax credit (the part of your premium to be paid by your neighbors down the street), you must apply for Federal Government mandated health insurance through a “Marketplace”…originally called an Exchange. These are web-sites and phone numbers….or you can contact your present health insurance agent and access the Marketplace via your agent.
Washington, D.C. claims to be on schedule to launch its Federal Government mandate on 10/01/2013, but when you start fiddling with one sixth of the US economy it can bite you in the behind…big time. So, I expect the roll out to hit some spectacular bumps in the road.
* In 2013, the federal poverty lever is $11,490.00 in annual income for a single person, and $23,550.00 for a family of four (4). Four times these poverty levels equals $45,960.00 for a single person and $92,200.00 for a family of four. (These are slightly higher amounts in Alaska and Hawaii)
Did you ever watch an accident or train wreck as it was about to happen?
You know it is going to occur but there is nothing you can do to avoid it or keep it from happening. Several years ago I was watching from the seventh floor of an office building as a train approached a crossing on a main street about a block away. An eighteen wheeler tanker truck loaded with gasoline approached the crossing, failed to stop, plowed through the crossing arm and into the train’s path.
Horn blaring, the train’s engine hit just behind the driver, blasting the truck cab to the side and gashing into its trailer loaded with five thousand gallons of gasoline. As the train ground to a halt, sparks from rails against locked steel wheels cascaded into a shower of gasoline as it gushed from the reptured trailer. As the train crew jumped from the engine the gasoline exploded into a giant fireball enveloping them as they tried to run away.
The resulting inferno burned for hours. Three train crewmen were incenerated. The engine’s fuel tanks exploded destroying it and the first several freight cars behind it. Several buildings near the site also burned. The fuel truck’s driver survived as the truck cab was separated from the fuel tanker’s load upon impact and he was only slightly injured.
How do those things happen? An experienced local trucker driving on a busy street approaches a railroad crossing that had been in the same place for 100 years and somehow fails to see flashing warning lights and well identified crossing arms four feet above the street.
What caused this catastrophy? It was not texting while driving…hadn’t been invented yet. Accidents happen…and this one did.
This was a true story…really happened in Jacksonville, Florida…so, next time you start wondering what would happen to your family if you suddenly were not around to pay the rent and buy the groceries, talk to your friendly life and health insurance agent about buying some peace of mind in the form of life insurance or disability income insurance or long term care insurance…any or all of the above.
Would you believe….that 42% of the people questioned in a recent national survey have no idea what ObamaCare is? I suppose it’s because ObamaCare won’t fit into a Tweet. You can bet that 100% of the 42% think ObamaCare means “Free Stuff”.
Hey, free stuff is not free. In the case of ObamaCare free stuff means you get it free while somebody else pays for it for you. Just like corporate income taxes, the corporations just pass that tax along to the buyer of its product.
ObamaCare is loaded with new taxes and the folk that pay those taxes are not going to just pony up the additional cash and then sit quietly in the corner. Instead, they are going to find ways to recoup those dollars.
If you mow lawns and landscape yards to pay the rent and feed your family, and Obama and the Democrats raise taxes on your lawn equipment manufacturers, their suppiers and gasoline and oil producers, your costs to run your business will increase. Then, to keep your business afloat, you must raise the prices you charge to your customers. So…whoever pays you also pays the increased taxes. You are stuck with having to raise your prices, but for no increase in you net income. Yeah, that really makes sense doesn’t it.
Starting January 1, 2014, ObamaCare’s requirement that all of us must own health insurance, or pay a tax penalty,kicks in.
Actually, “Exchanges” in each state must be ready to start enrolling people by October 1, 2013, for insurance to become effective on January 1, 2014. Exchanges are web-sites, phone numbers, and some may appear as free standing buildings. Starting in July 2013, a quarter million health insurance agents and brokers will begin training to provide the required health insurance via the exchanges. You can work with one of the qualified agents or brokers, or dial up an exchange directly. It’s your choice…the price is the same either way.
If you prefer to just hang on to the health insurance you own now, you are free to do so. Those policies should be all right…at least through the end of 2014.
Starting Junuary 1, 2014: For individuals earning up to $29,327, and for families earning up to $88,200, there will be cash provided by your neighbors who pay income taxes to off-set part of the government required health insurance premiums. How much tax payor cash help you will receive will depend upon your actual earnings and the number of people to be insured by your policy. NOTE: For most of us, IT IS NOT GOING TO BE FREE!
So, if you are part of that 42% not aware of ObamaCare, find out about it now. It is going to hit you in the pocket book, so you’d better be ready. Go on-line and look up “PPACA”, then skip reading anything you see dated before 1/01/2013, as a lot of things have changed since the end of 2012.
Hey! Didga know that by October 1, 2013, President Obama’s “Affordable Care Act” mandates that “Exchanges” in every state must be ready to start enrolling millions of uninsured “Americans” into Obama health insurance policies?
What is an Obama health insurance policy you ask? It is a nanny-state health insurance policy, designed by the Obama government, in four versions: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Benefits vary from better than nothing to the Obama government’s version of Valhalla.
If you like filling in government forms, you will absolutely love filling in the Obama government health insurance application form. Obama health insurance applications are expected to be filed on-line. Don’t own a computer? Tough! Go to the library or to some Obama government specified office to complete your application.
Expect to complete a form requiring twenty-one (21) steps plus added questions. You must be able to prove your identity, CITIZENSHIP, and income. To start, be ready to provide all your financial information, income, expenses, sources of cash, etc…consider it an IRS anal audit. Next, slog through a swamp full of arcane insurance language as you attempt to select which one of the four-sizes-fit-all Obama insurance plans fits your needs.
The Obama government expects you to complete your form in “only” thirty (30) minutes…so pack a lunch and bring something to drink, ’cause you know a Government 30 minutes means about an hour.
Oh, by the way…your application will be checked by three (3) Federal agencies, led by the IRS. (As in the old WW II movies as people attempted to move about the German countryside: A menacing guy in a leather trench coat…”Show me your papers mien herr.”)
If you are one of the 51% who,last November, voted to keep ObamaCare in place…Rejoice! You got what you voted for…and just like a STD, its going to last a while and get nasty before we can rid ourselves of it.
These blogs call for some profound statements to make the reader come right out of his/her seat. However, writer’s block has had its way with me lately. Then I remembered the movie Young Doctor Frankenstein and Marty Feldman’s character, Igor, when Young Dr F mentioned to Igor that he could maybe do something about Igor’s grotesque hump…Igor’s reply, “Hump, what hump?”.
Since the beginning of this year I have been in a headlong dash to produce as much new insurance business as the good Lord will permit. How else can one keep his/her head above water in this “rapidly improving economy”? (Quotes in place as that is the swill coming from Washington.)
We re-elected a president who says we don’t have a spending problem and only need to increase taxes on the “wealthy” to add new “investment” into our economy. Meanwhile, we (us, the US in USA) continue to borrow more than US can pay back in several lifetimes. Like some of us who have resorted to paying one credit card bill with a loan check from another credit card, sooner than later you run out of credit resources. Then what?
Unlike you and me, the federal government can just print money and pray that the rest of the world will take that bogus cash at face value. As with Continental Dollars from our revolutionary war days and Confederate Dollars from the war between the states, people will begin to lose faith in the value of the dollars being cranked out by the wizards of smart in Washington. When that happens hyper-inflation will set in just as it did in 1930′s Germany when a loaf of bread cost thousand of marks and one’s frau had to take along a cart full of cash to buy groceries for a single day.
I strongly disagree with PresBO. We do have a spending problem. We have a gazillion dollars coming in every year from income taxes and hundreds, maybe thousands of other taxes. Like you and me, the Federal government must learn to live within its means. When it does not do so, guess who ends up holding the bag? You and I…and your kids and their kids and their kids. When the Washington crowd kicks the financial can down the road as has been happening far too long, you and I are the ones down that road when the whole thing comes crashing down…while the Washington crowd sits home with their guaranteed pension cash and health care.
Think about it…and think about it really hard when next congressional elections arrive in 2014.
All the news about raising the debt ceiling has taken the heat off ObamaCare as that train wreck continues down the tracks toward its destiny with national bankruptcy.
Recently, I read that Healthcare is projected to take up 50% of the Federal budget by the end of the decade. Holy smoke! What happens when you add Social Security into the mix?
By 2014, ObamaCare mandates each state to have a system in place offering health insurance through a series of “Exchanges”…insurance stores selling health insurance policies containing benefits demanded by the fed’s in Washington. Looks as if there will be a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, etc. You pick your plan from the Fed’s list, then pay premiums each month to an “insurance” company offering that Plan.
I put insurance into quotation marks above because what you buy from an Exchange is no longer insurance. Instead, you will be paying your dollars to a company which must accept your application (Guaranteed Issue), pay your claims, and keep track of your records. Your premium dollars go into a pool to pay everybody else’s medical bills.
Broadly speaking, traditional Insurance Companies assume a monetary risk which would be impractical or impossible for one person to assume, assign cost to the risk assumed, and by contract guarantee to compensate the insured person if that person sustains a monetary loss resulting from a risk assumed by the insurance company.
Insurance companies’ engineers are called Actuaries…PhD number crunchers, and data miners. They set the price for the products. To stay in business, insurance companies must collect enough dollars to pay for claims and administration, including a ton of taxes, plus some profits for their owners. (Figure about 5% gross profit for most.)
As ObamaCare mandates that all health insurance companies issue health insurance to all comers starting in 2014, the actuaries can no longer set higher premiums for poor risks. On the flip side, they can no longer offer lower premium rates to the majority good risks like you. Instead they must pour everyone into the same actuarial stew pot, then figure out how much to charge for your coverage.
How will they do that?…know what a WAG is? How about a SWAG? Well, a WAG is a Wild Ass Guess, and a SWAG is a Systematic Wild Ass Guess. You and I take WAG’s all the time, while professional number crunchers take SWAG’s, and pick up big bucks for doing so. Further complicating matters is the fact that 2014 health insurance is guaranteed issue, with full coverage for “pre-existing conditions”
While we are expected to buy 2014 health insurance or pay a tax penalty for failing to do so, the tax penalty will be much less than premiums required to purchase the insurance…so guess who is going to buy health insurance in 2014? That’s Right! Sick people with pre-existing conditions, while most will just pay the fine each year…until they get the bad diagnosis from their doc. Then they will drop by their local state exchange and pick up some health insurance….and what effect do you suppose that will have on the long term cost of health insurance? Can you spell, The Sky is Not the Limit?
But, not to worry. ObamaCare provides premium assistance to individuals earning up to 400% (that’s almost $90,000 for a family of four) of the federal poverty line…Yep, your income tax dollars will be going to your boss to help pay his health insurance premiums each month…but, isn’t that the way Socialism is supposed to work?
November 2012, offered us an opportunity to vote in a national referrendum for maybe the first time since our founding as a Republic of soverign states. The US is now at a tipping point. The results of November’s election will inpact our country for the next 100 years.
ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate was upheld by the Supremes in 2012, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts. Now that Mandate has you firmly in its sights starting in 2014.
Certain of us will be exempt: Undocumented aliens, convicts in prison, American Indian tribes, those between jobs for up to three months, those with certain religious objections, and those who are truly poverty stricken. Everyone else is on the hook. Our friends at the IRS will administer the lash to those of us found guilty of ignoring federal law by opting not to own health insurance beginning January 1, 2014.
Starting in 2014, your penalty will be $95.00 per adult and $47.50 per child up to a family maximum $285.00, OR 1.00% of the family’s income whichever is Greater.
In 2015, those penalies increase to $ 325.00 per adult and $162.50 per child, with family maximum of $975.00 OR 2.00% of family income whichever is greater.
In 2016, another increase to $695.00 per adult, plus $347.50 per child, with family maximum bumped to $2,085.00 OR 2.50% of family income whichever is greater.
Younger individuals will likely opt to pay the penalty tax, as the tax would equal less than a year’s total premiums for health insurance. Then when they encounter a pending large medical bill, they will enroll in a health insurance plan under ObamaCare’s guarenteed issue provision.
Under the individual mandate part of the law IRS can hector you to pay the fine, but cannot criminally prosecute you for failure to comply, plus no liens can be placed on your property based on your failure to comply alone. However, IRS can withhold income tax refunds due you if you fail to pay the fine.
Most of the regulations are yet to be written, so there are still uncertainties with which to contend. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s now immortal statement that…”We must pass the law to find out what’s in it.”
What’s in it are hundreds of land mines yet to be stepped on by you and me. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)is a poorly crafted piece of legislation and will cause us headaches for many years to come.
Attention Medicare Beneficiaries: If you received a non-renewal notice from the insurance company providing your Medicare Advantage plan in 2012, you may take advantage of a Special Election Period (SEP), beginning December 8, 2012 and ending February 28, 2013, to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage Plan assuming one is available in your area.
Medicare Advantage Plans are provided under Part C of Medicare, effectively offering the opportunity to hire an insurance company to provide your Original Medicare Parts A&B benefits to you. Medicare Advantage Plans generally offer some additional benefits not included under Parts A and B of Medicare such as dental, hearing, vision, health clubs, etc.
Traditionally Medicare Advantage Plans require only nominal monthly premiums, and many are available in exchange for zero monthly premiums. See a qualified Medicare Insurance Agent, or visit www.Medicare.gov, for more on Medicare Advantage Plans.
If you received a Medicare Advantage Plan non-renewal notice you may, during the SEP above: (a) enroll in another Medicare Advantage Plan, assuming one is available in your area, (b) change to original Medicare and a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, (c) enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan and a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
If you voted for Obama you can feel proud that you had a hand in locking in ObamaCare, and increasing everyones’ taxes. If you are a “lower wage” earner, your taxes are going to increase just as those earning more…ain’t nobody gonna duck this one.
What? You say that you don’t pay income taxes because you don’t earn much…and that Uncle sends you cash in the form of a refundable tax credit? Here’s a flash for you…your Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes are going up, and soon. Look for your net paycheck to shrink in 2013.
Twentyone (21) tax reductions from the Bush years are set to expire on 12/31/2012. Starting in 2013, Social Security Tax from your paycheck jumps back to 6.20% from 4.20%. Your income tax Child Credit drops from $1,000 to $500. If you have young kids or a dependent adult living with you, your Dependent Care tax credit is scheduled to shrink to half of that available in 2012.
Increased taxes in 2013 affect everything and everyone, including YOU…reduced tax breaks for you if you ride a bus, rail or taxi to and from work, college education and student loan interest write-offs cuts are coming in 2013.
Higher taxes equal higher costs for everything you buy, whether you use cash or an EBT card. Look for inflation to cut into your buying power.
Regarding this year’s presidential and congressional elections: Alexis de Tocqueville, a noted political thinker and historian, traveled throughout America during the early 19th century and combined his observations into two (2) volumes titled Democrary in America.
Here are just a few of his thoughts:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanant form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [read,Free Stuff] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. Tha average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
“Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”
“We can state with conviction, therefore, that a man’s support for absolute government is in direct proportion for the contempt he feels for his country.”
“Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of the few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”
Yep. DeTocqueville nailed America in 2012, over two hundred years ago.