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California will not allow President Obama’s Obamacare “fix” – Health plans scheduled to cancel as anticipated November 22, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance, Obamacare, QuoteBroker.
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Despite the president’s wishes to the contrary, California yesterday rejected his plan to allow individuals to keep their current health plans through 2014.   In a press release, insurance commissioner Dave Jones expressed disappointment in the state health care exchange, CoveredCA, not allowing this provision to go through:

Over a millionCalifornians have received cancellation notices from their health insurer. On behalf of these policyholders I am disappointed in Covered California’s action,which denies individuals and families the opportunity to keep their existing health insurance as President Obama promised.

“Covered California rejected what President Obama and I asked for—that individual policyholders be allowed to keep their existing health insurance through all of 2014. Covered California’s decision denies Californians the same opportunity health insurers are giving to its small business customers who are being allowed to renew current policies throughout 2014.

CoveredCalifornia could have honored President Obama’s request, without causing damage to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or the Exchange.

While one might think as insurance commissioner Mr. Jones could have had a bigger hand in this decision, California’s unique health dynamic did not allow the commissioner to make this decision unilaterally. As part of their contract with insurers, CoveredCA had stipulated that these same plans must be cancelled.  In order to allow the carriers to comply with President Obama’s new guidance on the matter, not only did Mr. Jones need to sign off on the decision, but CoveredCA needed to release the individual carriers from that provision of their contract as well.  CoveredCA declined.

President Obama’s request that insurers allow policyholders to keep their plans through 2014 has put ACA supporting insurance commissioners in a tough position. On one hand, they’d like to stand united with their president.  On the other hand, the president’s directive is a blow to the current ACA implementation, as it means millions less will sign up for the exchange policies.

If you currently have a policy in California, the strong likelihood is that it is still ending as scheduled.  Contact Quotebroker at 866-SUBSIDY to review your 2014 healthcare options, whether that may be through the state health exchange, privately direct-to-carrier, through a small group health plan, Medi-CAL, Medicare, or another healthcare option best suited to you.

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Obamacare’s “Wedding Tax” and the Perks of Cohabitation October 7, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Affordable Health Insurance, California Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare.
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Wedding days are typically one of the happiest days of a couple’s new life together, and also one of the costliest.  Under the Affordable Care Act, they are about to get a whole lot costlier. While millions of families will benefit from Obamacare’s Premium Subsidy program, a little-publicized feature of the law will adversely affect married couples.  How could a government program to hand out health insurance premium assistance be a negative? The devil is in the details- specifically the mathematics of how eligibility for the premium assistance is calculated.

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, individuals earning under 400% of the Federal Poverty Line- $45,960 in 2013- will be eligible to receive “Advanced Premium Tax Credits,” which is just a fancy name for government money to help pay your monthly health insurance bill.  Unfortunately for those who are married, that same Federal Poverty Line guideline sets a threshold of $62,040 in combined income for the couple.

Because of the way these figures are calculated, Obamacare actually creates a disincentive to marry or remain married, a so-called “Wedding Tax.”  Unmarried cohabitating couples are given preferential treatment under the law. Let’s look at an example of a 50 year old couple without children living in Santa Clarita, with a combined income of $50,000 per year:

Combined Income Net Premium if Married Separate Incomes Combined Net Premium If Cohabitating Benefit of Cohabitation over Marriage
$50,000 $4,752 $25,000 x 2 $3,456 $1,296

*all data via CoveredCA.com, assuming “Silver” level coverage.

The married couple actually pays an additional $108 a month, or $1,296 per year than the cohabitating couple, despite both couples receiving subsidies and both couples enrolling in identical coverage.   Now let’s take a look at what happens when the couples’ income exceeds the subsidy threshold of $62,040 by even a single dollar.

Combined Income Net Premium if Married Separate Incomes Combined Net Premium If Cohabitating Benefit of Cohabitation over Marriage
$62,041 $8,772 2 x $31,020 $5,352 $3,420

*all data via CoveredCA.com, assuming “Silver” level coverage.

Once a couple’s income breaches the threshold, the difference in premium becomes much more apparent.  In this case, the married couple pays an additional $3,420 per year for identical coverage.   One way they can attempt to solve the issue is to earn a few thousand dollars less per year, mitigating the five-figure premium difference.  There are two issues with this strategy- first, encouraging workers to work less is not good for our economy and second, if either spouse’s income is difficult to keep track of precisely they could accidentally breach the threshold despite their best efforts not to, negating the strategy.  Another way to attempt to solve the issue is to use a tax-deferred vehicle like an IRA or H.S.A to reduce the couple’s income “on paper” and keep them under the subsidy line.  While this stratrgy (under the supervision of a good accountant) may work to reduce the effects of the law on the married couple, it will do nothing to change the fact that the gap with unmarried cohabitating couples still exists.  Under the Affordable Care Act, your matrimonial “I dos” turn quickly into “I dues.”

“An important p… September 30, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Affordable Health Insurance, California Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare, QuoteBroker.
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“An important part of the Affordable Care Act will take place no matter what Congress does. It is already funded, you can’t shut it down.”

The above quote is from President Obama, speaking today on the prospect of how shutting down the government may affect the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  We have received numerous inquiries during the government shutdown talk on how it might affect Obamacare, but you can rest assured that there will be no effect on Obamacare implementation, as of now.  Tomorrow, October 1, 2013 CoveredCA, California’s state based health exchange, will go live.  We will be able to shop plans, compare rates, check for subsidy eligibility and even enroll in coverage.  Count on Quotebroker to be with you every step of the way.  While the phone lines (800-783-0802) may be jammed with others trying to secure their subsidy, you can always visit us online at http://www.quotebroker.com for self-service or email us at info@quotebroker.com and we’ll be able to get to your inquiry same business day.

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