Posts Tagged ‘insurance exchanges’

Many Target Employees Now Searching for Health Insurance

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Part-time employees working at Target stores are searching for new health insurance policies right now.  As of April 1, Target’s part-timers are no longer eligible for the company’s health insurance plan.  This information comes from Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne in the article “Target to Drop Health Insurance for Part-Time Workers.”  They are following in the footsteps of Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, and other large retailers in the U.S.  Last year, the company had more than 361,000 workers.  They would not specify how many of those workers are part-time, which means that they work fewer than 30 hours a week.  But Target did say that only 10% of their part-time employees actually opted to take the health insurance offered to them.  This could be because they are students on their parents’ plans, have a spouse with health insurance, or forgo having insurance altogether.

Target is making these changes because of President Obama’s U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance plans to their full-time workers or they will be penalized.  Most Americans will also be penalized if they are not insured.  But Target insists that their part-time workers will be better off searching for their own health insurance plans.  If they qualify for a government subsidy, they can buy a plan from a health insurance exchange and pay less than they would with Target’s plan, according to the company.  This allows both the employee and the company to save money.  It’s not apparent how many of these Target workers will qualify for a subsidy though.  Those who don’t qualify might end up paying more for their health insurance than they did with Target.  If you are looking for a cheap health insurance plan, you can receive affordable quotes here.

Employees shopping in the health insurance exchanges have until the end of March to meet the open enrollment deadline.  This lines up with the end date of Target’s insurance plan for their part-time workers.  Target insists that people will not have their hours cut just so that the company no longer has to offer them health insurance plans.  They say that this will only apply to those who are already part-time, but only the employees will know if this holds true.  If it’s true that only 10% of their part-timers opted for company health insurance anyways, this change may not make a large impact overall.  But with the company withholding figures on the number of part-time workers and those close to the cusp of 30 hours, I’m not sure how many people truly will be affected by this health insurance change.

College Students Have Choices When it Comes to Health Insurance

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

College students often underestimate the importance of health insurance.  They believe that they are young and healthy and don’t want to “waste” money from their low-paying jobs to pay for something of which they can’t see the immediate value.  ABC News recently published Bankrate’s article, “Top 6 Health Insurance Options for College Students,” by Chris Kissell.  The article stresses the importance of health insurance to college students and highlights the fact that it is easier than ever for them to find a health insurance plan.  There are more options than ever before.

Perhaps the simplest option is to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan.  This won’t work for someone whose parents are uninsured, but everyone else under the age of 26 can now stay on their parents’ plans.  Sometimes this is tricky if students go to a college out of state though.  Make sure that there is somewhere to see a doctor in-network or try to schedule your doctors appointments when you are home for a break.  If remaining on your parents’ health plan isn’t an option, try to sign up for a health insurance plan through your college.  Many colleges offer plans to students and the cost can even be included with your tuition and paid by student loans.  Some college plans have limited coverage though, so read the details carefully to know what you are getting.

Another health insurance option is to shop in a health insurance exchange created by Obamacare.  Most students have low enough income that they can qualify for a subsidy to help them pay for their plan.  Students can also sign up for something called ‘catastrophic coverage’ through the health insurance exchanges.  These plans have low premiums and high deductibles.  Preventative care is covered, but beyond that deductibles are high.  This type of plan might work for some students, but one health ailment could lead to high medical bills.

As some states expand their Medicaid programs, students may be eligible to apply for this government health insurance.  Their entire family’s income would have to meet the poverty qualifications for them to be eligible for Medicaid.  Not all states are expanding their Medicaid programs, so this won’t be an option for all low-income college students.  Most Americans will be required to have health insurance or face a fine from the government.  But college students earning less than $10,000, exempting them from filing income taxes, won’t be forced to carry health insurance.  Forgoing health insurance can be dangerous and costly though, so search for an individual health insurance plan if none of the other options work for you.

Affordable Care Act Questions Answered

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The health insurance exchanges are now open and despite some initial glitches and system overload, response has been fairly positive.  People still have a lot of questions about the Affordable Care Act, so NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman answered questions asked by Americans regarding the new health care law.  As NBC News chief medical editor, Dr. Snyderman offered a wealth of information about how we will all be affected in “Health exchanges open. What now? Dr. Nancy Snyderman answers your questions.” I’ve summarized the important information she relays on the NBC News website.

People who have health insurance through their job do not have to do anything.  You can shop around in the exchanges for a better value, but keep in mind that you won’t get any tax credits for an exchange plan if you have an available plan through your work.  Premium payments will be made directly to the insurance company whose plan you choose.  There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not premiums will increase for those who already have health insurance plans and unfortunately, only time will give the answer to that question.  If you qualify for a tax credit, you can choose to lower your premium right from the start or get an estimated tax credit the following year.

All doctors are not necessarily required to cover all plans, so check the details of your particular plan to confirm the doctors you can see.  If you are eligible for a plan through your spouse’s employer but want to search for your own through an exchange, you are not eligible for a tax credit.  Even someone young who is in college full time and does not work could be penalized if they do not purchase health insurance.  But they can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 because of the new law, so that might be a better option than purchasing their own.  Starting January 1, preventative care will be available at no cost, including birth control pills for women.  If you need insurance because of a “qualifying life event” like a job loss after March 31, 2014 you can still obtain it.

American citizens living abroad will not be penalized if they don’t have health insurance.  People with pre-existing conditions can now get insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.  Your costs will be based on the number of people you want to cover and how much money you make.  Older Americans will not lose anything if they are already on Medicare and they may gain some added benefits.  The penalty if you do not have health insurance will appear when you file your taxes and will vary based on income.  Within two years the penalty jumps to a much higher amount.  You can sign up at healthcare.gov and get even more questions answered.  If you want to compare health insurance plans, you can also click here.

Connecticut’s Insurance Exchange A Model for Other States

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Connecticut is looking to be an example for the other states in the U.S. with their health insurance exchange.  The federally mandated exchanges are supposed to make it easier for uninsured Americans to find health insurance in an affordable way.  They will primarily be online and will offer an array of plans, most of which will be subsidized by the government for those needing help with the cost.  Connecticut’s exchange will have four different coverage tiers, which are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.  The Exchange’s Board of Directors just approved new criteria that is specific and will remain consistent across the different plans.  This criteria will enhance the transparency of the benefits and coverage and will make it easy to compare the overall value consumers will receive.

According to a press release from the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, each plan will offer comprehensive insurance coverage and include preventative care in consumers’ premium payments.  Many different people and agencies had a hand in developing the new criteria, which has three main goals.  The first is simplicity, both for consumers’ understanding and for administration.  Next, they strive to be completely focused on the consumer.  They will offer the basic health care that consumers need for the lowest possible price.  Lastly, the Exchange will put a strong emphasis on primary care so that people are taking an active approach to consistently maintain their health.

Nine different carriers have already showed interest in joining Connecticut’s health insurance exchange when it starts offering plans October 13 of this year.  Each insurer will have to offer a standard plan design in each tier, but can also offer another of their own to encourage competition and new ideas.  In addition to the four above mentioned tiers, three more silver plans will be available to lower income families.  The Connecticut Insurance Department will approve all of the plans once the insurance carriers iron out the details of what they will offer consumers.  All plans will be certified by the Exchange.  Look for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange to be up and running this October.