Affordable Care Act
It’s Your Last Chance for Health Insurance in California—Don’t Miss Out!
Published on January 25, 2018
Californians who don’t get health insurance on the job have just a few days left to select or change health plans under the Obamacare open enrollment period.
Here are 6 tips to make sure you’re covered in 2018 if you’re from California.
1. Watch out for the enrollment deadline. You have until January 31st to enroll in an Obamacare plan and have health insurance for 2018. Although the open enrollment for California health insurance is quickly coming to a close, an eHealth survey found that more than half of those shopping for coverage might not realize that open enrollment is almost over. If you miss the window, in most cases you won’t be able to get another Obamacare plan until next year…so visit eHealth now to find a health insurance plan in California that works for you.
2. Beware of killer out-of-pocket costs.Affordable monthly premiums are important, but they are not the only cost to pay attention to. The out-of-pocket costs (copayments, deductibles, etc.) may be higher with a plan that has an extremely low premium, so make sure to be aware of that when picking a California health insurance plan for 2018. According to an eHealth survey, out-of-pocket costs for medical care and prescription drugs are likely to be the biggest factor when it comes to how satisfied you feel with your coverage over time. Be sure to look beyond a health plan’s monthly payment to understand all of your total possible costs, and decide where it’s smartest for you to put your money.
3. Subsidies (if you’re eligible) can save you hundreds per month.If you earn about $48,000 or less per year (about $98,000 or less for a family of four), you may be eligible for government subsidies that can lower your monthly premiums by hundreds of dollars per month. Subsidies can make all the difference when it comes to affording health insurance. In fact, they allow some eligible shoppers in certain areas this year to buy bronze-level plans with no monthly premium. Licensed agents and government exchanges can help you learn if you qualify.
4. Look for hidden benefits. Californians eligible for subsidies, and some who aren’t, may have access to bronze-level plans that allow for three outpatient visits per year without having to first meet the deductible. Instead, there’s just a $75 flat-rate fee, or co-pay, at the time of the visit. Silver policies often allow you to pay a flat-rate co-pay for nearly all outpatient visits – whether to primary care physicians or specialists. Lab work, X-rays and generic medications are also often available without first meeting the deductible too. Check the details of any plan you select to make sure it has the benefits you expect.
5. HSA-eligible health plans can save you a bundle.If you buy a 2018 plan with an annual deductible of at least $1,350 for an individual or $2,700 for a family, you may be eligible to open and contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSAs let you pay for qualified medical expenses (including copays and deductibles!) with pre-tax dollars from your HSA. You can contribute pre-tax dollars to your HSA up to an annual limit, which is $3,450 for individual coverage and as much as $6,900 for family coverage in 2018.
6. Watch out for the “subsidy cliff.” Just a small difference in your projected vs. actual income can make a big difference in what you pay for health insurance. An eHealth analysis showed that a family of three earning just $204 extra over the course of a year can miss out on more than $6,700 in subsidies if that family’s income is just over the income that is eligible for subsidies. Also keep in mind that if you calculate your income incorrectly, you may end up having to pay back a portion of the subsidy you received.