Health Insurance Information: April 2018

Health insurance continues to be in the news again this month.

vacation time

According to the US Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, 55% of Americans who receive paid vacation time had unused days at the end of 2016. The result: 662 million vacation days not utilized. If you haven’t already done so, start planning how to use this year’s allocated vacation days. You need to maintain your health; both physical and mental.

exemptions from the affordable care act penalty

The Trump administration will allow you to apply for an exemption for not enrolling for health insurance in 2016 and 2017 if your county of residence had only one insurance company offering individual plans on the Exchange. In Illinois this includes 13 counties, including Lake and McHenry.

Apply for your health insurance exemption through the Obamacare exchange. You will also need to file an amended tax return for the applicable year(s). The penalty is completely repealed beginning in 2019.

health savings account contributions

The allowable contribution levels to your HSA account as part of your specific health insurance plan for 2018 have decreased from previous years. Check with your plan administrator for specific allowable amounts for the plan in which you are enrolled.

health insurance provider announcements

Aetna and United have announced that their drug rebates from drug makes will begin to be passed along to their customers beginning in 2019. However, the cost of coverage on health plans providing these consumer rebates could increase. The drug rebates are currently used by the insurance companies towards maintaining the cost of coverage. You might not be saving any money with these changes.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has announced their $1.5 billion plan to reduce medical costs: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20180301/NEWS03/180309976/blue-cross-parent-commits-1-5-billion-to-lower-medical-costs#utm_medium=email&utm_source=ccb-healthcaredailyalert&utm_campaign=ccb-healthcaredailyalert-20180302

health care costs in retirement

Fidelity Investments is estimating that a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need $280,000 for their health care costs in retirement. This is a 4% increase from last year. Seriously consider your anticipated health care needs as you prepare your retirement financial plan.

medicare

New Medicare cards have begun to be distributed in April 2018; to continue for the next several months. Rather than your social security number also serving as your Medicare identification number, you will now have a randomly assigned number as your identifier.

There is a transition period for providers to check your new number against the old Medicare card information through the Medicare system. Continue to protect this information to protect yourself from fraud and scamming.

The 2018 Medicare doughnut hole threshold for drugs begins at $3750 in out of pocket expenses and ends at $5,000. While in the gap you will pay 35% for brand name drugs and 44% for generic drugs. Beginning in 2019, beneficiaries will be paying 25% of all prescription drug costs for the entire time in the doughnut hole. The doughnut hole will be completely eliminated in 2020. For additional information go to Medicare.gov.

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