Health Insurance Still Not Affordable For Everyone
Updated: Monday, March 10 2014, 11:18 PM CDT
The deadline is fast approaching to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace. For many people looking for a plan through the HeathCare.gov website, subsidies and tax credits make premiums affordable, and can cut down on bills after an emergency medical event.
Experts say some individuals were finding plans for as low as $30 per month. Others, who don't qualify for subsidies or tax credits, say the cost of premiums and high deductibles will be more expensive than the penalties.
"It is $625, approximately, per month for the premium. The deductible is $12,700 a year, and that is also $12,700 for out of pocket. So for us we'd have to spend over $20,000 a year before our insurance would actually kick in and cover anything," Donna Hillyer said.
For she and her husband, the cost of the plan would be more than the penalty, and the actual coverage would be minimal.
"The way I understand it our penalty would be about $480 per year. That is less than one month's premium, so for me it makes more sense just to do the penalty," Hillyer explained.
The individual mandate has been praised by supporters of Obamacare, saying it will create a healthier society, and cut down on unpaid medical bills to hospitals and doctors' offices.
"One emergency visit we were just talking about can be astronomical. We're talking $10,000 depending on tax," ACA Counselor Delilah Nelson with Family Guidance Center said.
Still, many oppose being required to buy health insurance. The Healthcare.gov website says those who aren't enrolled in a plan by March 31 will pay a penalty at the end of the year when they file taxes.
The penalty to the IRS will be whichever of these two amounts is higher: 1 percent of the household's yearly income with a cap equal to the average yearly cost of a Bronze plan through the Marketplace, or $95 per person plus $47.50 per child under 18 for the year with a maximum penalty per family of $285.
"We've been uninsured. We were looking forward to this thinking it would help us. It does not seem like it's going to help us," Hillyer said.
Those are just the penalties for 2014. Next year, the penalty doubles from 1 percent of the household income to 2 percent, or from $95 per person to $325 per person.
Some families and individuals are a exempt from the penalty. A few exemptions include being uninsured for less than three months per year, or having an income low enough they do not need to file a tax return. For a full list of exemptions just click here.