Resolve to be healthier this year with affordable health insurance

By By Rod Harkelroad, Chief Executive Officer of Haywood Regional Medical Center | Jan 11, 2017
Photo by: Donated photo By Rod Harkelroad, Chief Executive Officer of Haywood Regional Medical Center

It’s the New Year, and you know what that means – resolutions! But this year, there’s an easy resolution you can make that will have a significant impact on your health for the upcoming year — visit the Health Insurance Marketplace and enroll in an affordable health insurance plan. It will allow you to see a doctor long before you actually need one.

If this sounds like the right resolution for you, you may want to act quickly. Open enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace ends January 31, 2017.

If you still aren’t convinced, here are five great reasons why there’s no time like the present to enroll:

Preventive Healthcare – Health insurance covers the cost of in-network, preventive healthcare services such as health screenings, vaccinations and wellness exams. These types of preventive services are great ways to maintain good health, keep existing medical conditions from worsening, and spot health conditions before they become problematic. Without insurance, these services can be expensive and are often bypassed by uninsured individuals.

Unforeseen Medical Needs – Your health can change in an instant. It is important to be prepared and able to handle any situation that comes your way. Without insurance coverage, the cost of unforeseen medical bills could have a lasting impact on your family.

Prescription Costs – Marketplace health insurance plans also offer prescription benefits. If you or someone in your family is on regular medication, search for a plan that includes coverage for your prescription.

Tax Credits and Federal Subsidies – Depending on your household size and income, you may qualify for premium tax credits to help cover the cost of Marketplace health insurance premiums and cost-sharing reductions, which are extra savings on your out-of-pocket expenses on a silver plan. When you visit the Marketplace, the easy-to-use, online tool will inform you of any premium tax credits and/or cost-sharing reductions for which you are eligible. In some cases the premium tax credits are provided in advance each month to reduce your premium payments. In 2016, approximately 85% of individuals insured through Marketplace plans received premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions.

Federal Penalties –A payment (“fee,” “fine,” “individual mandate”) you make if you don’t have health insurance that counts as qualifying health coverage. The penalty in 2016 and 2017 for not having health coverage is $695 for each person on your tax return who isn’t covered ($347.50 per child), or 2.5% of your household income, whichever is more.

• You owe a fee for any month you, your spouse, or your tax dependents don’t have qualifying health coverage.

• You’ll pay the fee when you file your federal income tax return.

If you’re uncovered just some months of the year, you pay 1/12 of the penalty for each month you’re uninsured. If you’re uncovered for only 1 or 2 consecutive months, you don’t have to pay the fee at all.

People with very low incomes and others with special circumstances may be eligible for exemptions from the requirement to have health insurance. If you qualify for an exemption, you won’t have to pay the fee.

Haywood Regional Medical Center wants to make sure that our community members understand the benefits of health insurance and are not blindsided by the penalties or other downsides of not having coverage.  Through the end of January, we have a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) on hand to help you understand your options and navigate the system.  Call us at 828-452-8192. You can speak to our CAC over the phone or make an appointment for an in-person visit at HRMC. Hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. You can also email your questions to Haywood.CAC@haymed.org.

You can also visit www.GetEnrollmentHelp.com for more assistance. There, you can easily access helpful information, including a check list of the documents you will need to enroll for insurance.