Health care deadline nears; cost subsidies, how to get help

ST. GEORGE – March 31 is the deadline for anyone without health care to apply for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as some call it. Once the March 31 deadline passes, people will suffer negative consequences if they have not signed up.

Anna Edam, agent at Joseph E. Hansen Insurance, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Joseph E. Hansen Insurance, St. George News
Anna Edam, agent at Joseph E. Hansen Insurance, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Joseph E. Hansen Insurance, St. George News

For those anxious about understanding and working through the government’s website, concerned they can’t afford it and fearful of the penalties for not enrolling, there are agents who are willing to help, agents who have additional resources at their disposal to help people enroll and find subsidies to defray the cost of insurance. One of those is Anna Edam, at Joseph E. Hansen Insurance, who provides some insight into the new mandate.

Though controversy remains a large part of the news surrounding the Affordable Care Act, one fact remains: Obamacare is here and after the March 31 deadline passes there will be no opportunity to sign up for 2014. After the March 31 deadline, those who remain uninsured will be fined when they file their 2014 taxes.

After the the March 31 deadline, those who have not enrolled will not be eligible to enroll until November for a 2015 effective date.

Individuals who miss the deadline through the Affordable Care Act website can still enroll through private market insurance, but will not receive any government subsidies.  This could greatly increase their insurance premiums.

IMG_2524More than 4 million people have registered through the Affordable Care Act, but that leaves millions still uninsured. The fear of maneuvering the healthcare website has scared many away from even looking to see what kind of subsidies for which they might qualify.

“It’s my job to help people enroll in the health care plan that benefits them,” Edam said.  “I’m here to take the weight of going through that website off of them.

“I’m here to walk clients through all aspects of the Affordable Care Act. They can come in just to talk, and I can give them a quote on the spot of what their insurance will cost.  There is no charge for this service,” she said.  “Clients can decide to sign up at that time, or not. If they choose to enroll, there is still no charge.

“I use a website for a pre-quoting system approved by the federal government that will give a quote in minutes without even entering the federal health care website.”

Anna Edam talks with a client about navigating the ACA website, Mar. 3, 2013, St. George, Utah | Photo by Rhonda Tommer
Anna Edam talks with a client about navigating the ACA website, Mar. 3, 2013, St. George, Utah | Photo by Rhonda Tommer

Another little known fact is that all that’s needed to get a basic quote is a person’s age, zip code, family size and income.  No name or social security number is required.

One of the first things Edam does when a client calls her is to check to see if that client qualifies for a subsidy.

“I have found that many people who live in Washington County don’t expect to qualify for any subsidies for their premiums,” Edam said, “but are surprised to find out that they actually do.”

Those subsidies can be used to help with premium payment or can be used as write-offs for the 2014 tax year.  It’s up to the individual to decide how the subsidies are applied.

Two major benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act are that no one can be denied insurance coverage due to preexisting conditions and no one can be denied for large prescription expenses.

Insurance through the Affordable Care Act also covers all preventative care such as mammograms, colonoscopies, childhood immunizations and well-baby checkups.

“Regardless of what plan a person is on they can go in for preventative care at no cost,” Edam said.  “Checking for diabetes, high cholesterol and getting children immunized is covered regardless of deductible or copay. They can go in and have preventative care paid for at 100 percent.”

Maternity care and mental health care falls under the same deductible as regular health care, and there is no annual limit to how much an insurance company will cover. In previous years, coverage for maternity and mental health care required a separate deductible in most instances.

Young people are the most reluctant to enroll for health care, Edam said. However, not having coverage and having an accident that requires hospitalization and major medical care is costly – even for young people.  Without insurance coverage those bills add up quickly to burden the patient for a long time.  One trip to the hospital can easily run up to $50,000.

“Hospitals will try to collect on those services,” Edam said. “And neglecting the bills will have a negative effect on credit ratings.”

It’s much cheaper in the long run to enroll in a health care plan and reap the benefits of the preventative care, as well as be covered for anything catastrophic that might occur.

There are two deadlines to be aware of in the month of March. Applications completed  by March 15 will be covered effective April 1. Applications completed March 16-31 will be effective May 1. Open enrollment starts again in November when people can meet with Edam to evaluate their current plan and make any necessary changes, or just renew their current plan for coverage in 2015.

“I’m here for the long haul,” Edam said. “I want my clients to know that we have a relationship that allows them to come to me anytime with questions, and when it’s time to re-enroll for the following year, I’ll still be here to help them do that.”

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Joseph E. Hansen Insurance is located at 376 E. Sunland Drive in St. George.  The agency also offers auto, home, business and life insurance. Edam can be reached at 435-628-5553.

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1 Comment

  • Jeremiah Barber March 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    More accurately, the March 31 date applies to even obtaining coverage off of the marketplace.

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