Health care premiums for 2016

This morning, many logged online to check out their premiums for 2016 under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Sadly, they learned rates are going up.

In 2006, rates are going up in much of the country as a new sign-up season starts this Nov. 1. It does not mean that people don’t have options if they shop around. There is also hopes that an upgraded government website will help them compare costs and benefits in a more efficient manner. other state-run insurance markets start their third year offering taxpayer-subsidized private coverage. This has help cut the number of Americans who are uninsured to about 9% which is a historical low in the U.S. The moving parts of the Affordable Care Act don’t always click smoothly, and that’s still a problem plus it creates a division in how people feel about the law.

A look at what’s new for 2016:

Next week the government will release a master file that researchers have used to piece together national trends. These averages won’t tell the whole story however, because health care is local. The total premiums can vary widely from state to state, and even within some states.

For more than 8 in 10 customers, the premium increases will be cushioned by taxpayer subsidies that are available. This will absorb most of the cost, but there could be some out of pocket expenses so it still pays to shop around.

New support when it comes to figuring out costs

Sadly too many people look only at the monthly premium when picking a plan and this is not a smart move. There are other costs can be just as important, if not more important. These can include the deductible (the amount individuals must pay each year before their plan kicks in) and things like cost-sharing or copays for medical services. You could have a $100 a month premium but a $50 co-pay for a doctors visit. This means if you get sick or are pregnant, you could have multiple office visits resulting in huge out of pocket costs.

Maybe smoother renewals this year?

Returning customers, who don’t want to make any changes to their current plan will get automatically re-enrolled. This process will be smoother this year, because the government has better information to update subsidies for customers who just want to keep the same plan in 2016.

However it is important to note that returning customers must make sure to file a tax return. Those who got subsidies in 2014 stand a chance of losing their financial assistance next year if they have not filed. So don’t skip out on your tax filing and expect no issues.

Don’t forget penalties

You should remember that there is a tax penalty for people remaining uninsured in 2016 and it is no slap on the wrist. For some it could be equal to a car or rent payment.

The fine will rise this coming year to the greater of either $695 or 2.5 percent of your taxable income. That’s for someone without coverage for a full 12 months. Compare that to this years numbers which are $325 or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater.

You can visit TurboTax or Tax Policy Center, to find out what you would end up paying. They will be offering online tax penalty calculators on their websites that you can use for free. That can help put a dollar figure to the trade-offs for those who are on the fence about signing up for coverage.

Note these important dates:

November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016 for sign ups.

For coverage to start January 1, 2016 consumers must enroll by December 15, 2015.

Online: Healthsite:  to learn more.

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