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Questions about health insurance

Posted December 25, 2013 in Advice Column, Boone

Confused about health insurance?  There’s a lot to know. Farm Bureau agent Lora Olerich can help provide clarity with answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions.

•    Does the Affordable Care Act affect me? The simple answer is yes. It will affect almost all Americans in some manner. The ACA is a broad piece of legislation that affects almost anyone who has health insurance and is not on Medicare. Seniors older than 65 who are on Medicare are, for the most part, not affected by this law.

•    Is it true that if I don’t buy health insurance I’m going to be charged a penalty? Those who do not have health insurance will be assessed a tax penalty for not having coverage. These penalties start at about 1 percent of your income in 2014 and continue to grow over the next few years.

•    What should I do until the website is available? There’s a common misconception that you have to buy your plan on the Exchange. Remember, the Exchange is just another place to buy plans offered by private insurance companies. You can buy those same plans through your insurance agent or though the insurance company. The only real advantage to buying on the Exchange is if you qualify for any subsidies to help with the cost of your insurance.

•    What if I can’t afford health insurance under the Affordable Care Act? The Affordable Care Act provides for premium subsidies for those who cannot afford coverage. There are some criteria set up to determine affordability. Sound complicated? It is. However, using the Marketplace or working with your local, trusted agent can help you determine if you qualify for these subsidies.

•    The changes under the Affordable Care Act seem so confusing. I don’t know what to do. Is there someone who can help? There are people who can help. There are navigators and certified application counselors who are required to complete training and pass a test and can help you apply, but they can’t sell or recommend particular plans.     Your best local resource is probably the same person you work with today — your local, licensed insurance agent. He or she also must complete the same training to help their clients on the Marketplace.  However, he or she can also help you select a plan either on or  off the Marketplace, as well as continue to assist you with claims issues, billing issues, provider issues and general customer service. Because of the complexities associated with health care reform, this is a great time to leverage a relationship with a trusted, local insurance agent.

Information provided by Lora Ahrens Olerich, Farm Bureau Financial Services, 515-433-2000.

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