Thinking of Dropping Your Health Insurance?
Buying health insurance might not sound like the most exhilarating thing, but as anyone with health insurance will tell you, having the right amount of coverage at the right price can bring about an incredible feeling of peace. Knowing that your expenses will be handled if the worst should happen is an extremely liberating experience, but paying for the policy month after month is a reality that many forget about.
Making payments is extremely easy if you receive coverage through your place of employment. The money is simply subtracted from each paycheck like a tax, and barring qualifying circumstances, that’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, this means that if you don’t like the policy your work provides, you’re stuck with it until open enrollment, but at least you don’t have to worry about making payments on time.
If you have a private health insurance plan, regardless of whether you purchased it through the federal or state exchange or directly from a private company, things are a little different. Now you have a monthly premium to take care of, and while it may not be a burdensome expense, a sudden drop in your income level could leave you without protection when you need it most. When you stop making payments, your 90-day grace period begins, and we break it down into its deadlines and fees below the break.
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Your Grace Period By the Day
Obviously, if you stop paying for your insurance, you’ll eventually lose it. This could happen immediately or, if you qualify for assistance, after a 90-day grace period. Not sure if you qualify? Call your healthcare provider for more information – 87% of applicants in 2015 were eligible. The countdown begins on your first missed due date.
Days 1-30 – Your insurer must continue to pay claims.
Days 31-90 – Your insurer can withhold claim payout until you catch up on your premiums. If you fail to catch up on all payments by the end of the grace period, your carrier will return all documentation to your physician and the bills will be your responsibility. After the initial 30-day wait, insurers are obligated to alert medical professionals to your inability to pay. Many physicians will ask for cash if your insurance is in limbo.
Not having coverage comes with additional penalties under the Affordable Care Act, and not carrying insurance could lead to hefty fees when you file your tax return.
What Can I Do?
Even if your inability to pay is temporary, help is available. If you’re unable to purchase insurance because of a lack of income, you may be able to qualify for assistance programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Preparing for financial hardships ahead of time by saving up is a foolproof way to make sure the money is there when you need it, and being able to draw from your savings to avoid the end of a grace period could save you.
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