2015 Tax S.E.P.

Obamacare WarningWhen congress passed the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010, they completely changed the rules for health insurance.  Many think they went too far.

The PPACA only provides a legislative skeleton.  Congress ceded their power to create law to the Executive wing of government.  Most of the rules, for health insurance, that America must obey have been created by the flunkies in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

They have, in turn, “delegated” the responsibilities of implementing “Obamacare” to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The result has been many changes.  One of the most severe changes, to the individual insurance market, is in the ability of Americans to make changes to their plans.

Before “Obamacare” went into full force, on January 1, 2014, Americans could make changes to their individual insurance plans at any time of the year they wanted to.  Now Americans can only make changes during a government approved Election Period.

OEP

In 2013 – 2014 there was a 6 month Open Election Period (OEP).  During that time, Americans were allowed to choose which health insurance plan they wanted.  However, after the Election Period ended, they did not have the ability to make changes, at any time, if they were not happy with the plan they chose.   They had to wait.

AEP

“Obamacare” requires that Americans actively enroll, or make changes, to their individual health insurance plans during a 3 month Annual Election Period (AEP).  Unfortunately, congress did not specify what months the AEP would take place in.  The president, not congress, determines when the AEP will be.

In 2013 the OEP was hurried.  It began on October 1, even though HHS had not tested its “Marketplace”.  Healthcare.gov was not even close to being able to handle the thousands of initial enrolments that Americans had to complete in just 6 months.  It failed miserably and loudly.

In his attempt to avoid embarrassment by delaying “Obamacare” until HHS had a system that worked properly, Mr. Obama forced a fiasco on Americans and then attempted to dismiss it by saying that the system was experiencing some “glitches.”

In 2014, Mr. Obama did not allow the AEP until after the mid-term elections.  He did not want to allow voters to see how high health insurance premiums would be for 2015.  The AEP went from November 15 – February 15 for purely political reasons.

The dates for the 2015 AEP are changing again.  This year the AEP will start on November 1 and will end on January 31, 2016.  All Americans will have the chance to make changes to their individual plans during that time.

SEP

When the “Obamacare” rules were being consider by the bright minds in D.C. they realized that there would be times, during the year, that people would need to make legitimate changes to their individual health insurance plans. Because of that, the politicians in D.C., created Special Election Periods (SEP).  You can see what the SEP qualifications are at the link in this article.  Americans typically have only 60 days, from a qualifying event, in which they are allowed to make changes.

The one exception to the 60 day rule is when CMS declares a SEP.

When Healthcare.gov crashed, again, on the last day of the 2015 AEP, CMS declared a 1 week SEP for those people who were “in line” when Healthcare.gov crashed.  They were given an extra week to “finish” enrolling.

CMS has granted another SEP for March 15 – April 30.  This is not another Annual Election Period that is open to all Americans.  This SEP is only available to people who meet the following requirements.

  1. Have completed their 2014 tax return and owe the Shared Responsibility Payment
  2. Do not already have an individual plan through Healthcare.gov
  3. Did not fully understand the consequences of not having “Obamacare” compliant health insurance

If you are confused about this SEP, use the form below to contact me.

2015 Special Election Period

taxes-226718_640In February, CMS, the federal agency that is responsible to regulate “Obamacare,” announced that there would be a Special Election Period (S.E.P.) for those Americans who did not have government approved health insurance in 2014 and owe the new “Shared Responsibility Payment,” formerly known as the “Penalty.”

During this S.E.P. Americans who qualify have a second chance to enroll in an “Obamacare” compliant health insurance plan.  However, there is some confusion.

In order to qualify for this S.E.P. Americans must…

  1. Complete their 2014 tax return
  2. Owe the “Shared Responsibility Payment for 2014
  3. Not have enrolled in a compliant plan, for 2015, during the Annual Election Period

The official S.E.P. starts on March 15 and goes until April 30.  During that time, all Americans who qualify, may enroll in a compliant plan through Healthcare.gov.

However, here in Texas, one insurance company has gotten permission to start the enrollment a week early.  Texans who enroll between March 9 and March 15 are eligible for an April 1 effective date.

That is important because the law that authorized “Obamacare” allows an individual to remain uninsured for 3 months, each year, without being subject to the “Penalty.”  As long as Texans do not lapse their health insurance policy, later in 2015, they will escape the “Shared Responsibility Payment” for 2015.

In order to do that, Texans, must fax the completed paper application by March 15.  Texans may print off a copy of the application at the link above.  Once it is complete, fax it to 281-342-6217.

Texans may obtain plan descriptions and premium rates by clicking here.

Please note that all insurance companies do not offer early enrollment.  This option, is the only one available, in TX, from the health insurance companies with which I am contracted.