ACA enrollees shouldn’t panic over scary renewal notices

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A sweet, middle-aged couple living on a fixed income called me in a panic recently.

I had helped them enroll in a Moda Health insurance policy through the Affordable Care Act last spring and they’d just received an alarming letter from Moda about their policy. Moda told them their current insurance plan would not be offered for 2015, but they would happily enroll them in a similar plan, if they’d like.

That sounded fine – until they got to the part about the new premium costing them about $500 more each month. They are currently paying only $53 per month because of a large Advanced Premium Tax Credit they were awarded last spring due to their limited income.

Although the Moda letter did say more than once that the couple could see if they qualify for more tax credits by going to their ACA application onhealthcare.gov during the upcoming Open Enrollment, it never told them that they most likely would get most of their increased premium cost covered by a larger tax credit if they declare the same adjusted gross income they did for 2014.

This fact was confirmed by a Moda Health sales manager I spoke to about this issue. He assured me that when those clients go back to theirhealthcare.gov application during the upcoming Open Enrollment Period and enroll in another plan for next year, they should only see a slight increase in their monthly premium after the tax credits have been adjusted up. He estimated their monthly cost would rise from $53 to about $70.

I immediately called my clients back and they were quite relieved. They made an appointment to come see me at Mat-Su Health Services again after Open Enrollment starts November 15 so that I can help them enroll in a new insurance plan.

So if you also enrolled in an ACA insurance plan this past year and have received a similar notice from your insurance carrier, don’t freak out. Give me a call at Mat-Su Health Services at 352-3225 to make an appointment for free, in-person help with your Health Insurance Marketplace (ObamaCare) account between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15.

Keep in mind that in order for your new policy to be effective January 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15 and make your first premium payment before Jan. 1. If you don’t enroll until December 20, for example, your new policy won’t kick in until Feb. 1. The amount of tax credits and cost-sharing reductions you receive will depend on your estimated household adjusted gross income for 2015.

As always, if you any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or go to thehealthcare.gov website for more information.

K.T. (Kate) McKee is a Certified Application Counselor for the Affordable Care Act at Mat-Su Health Services Inc., in Wasilla.

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