Covered California deadline looms

By Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star, Calif.
Tribune Content Agency

Dec. 07–Covered California’s first deadline falls at the stroke of midnight Dec. 15.

People who meet the cutoff and enroll in a health insurance plan will have coverage effective New Year’s Day. People who are already insured through Covered California but changing plans should have seamless coverage if they act before midnight.

People who instead follow Cinderella’s lead will have to enroll by Jan. 15 to have coverage that begins Feb. 1. People who don’t enroll by Feb. 15, the end of open enrollment, could have to wait another year.

A so-called passive renewal system means people who want to stay in their existing plan without changes don’t have to do anything.

Covered California is the health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Leaders of the program predict 500,000 people will enroll this year, joining the 1.2 million people who signed up during the first enrollment season that began last year.

Deadlines in the first go-round brought a tsunami of last-minute sign ups, triggering marathon duels with automated phone systems and website snarls that pushed more people to the phones.

Covered California leaders are not predicting a headache-free cruise through the deadline this time around. But they think things will be better.

“We expect a lot of people to wait for the last minute to come in,” said spokesmanRoy Kennedy. “We expect Dec. 14-15 to be heavy periods of enrollment.”

MORE INFO

People who want coverage on Jan. 1 need to act by midnight Dec. 15 unless they’re staying in their existing plans. For more information go towww.coveredca.com or try the following:

5 Social Security changes coming in 2015

Social Security recipients will receive 1.7 percent bigger checks in 2015, the Social Security Administration announced last week. And some groups of workers will begin receiving benefit statements in the mail with a list of taxes paid and an estimate of their future retirement benefit. Here’s a look at the new Social Security benefits, taxes and services workers and retirees will experience in 2015:

Bigger payments. The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment is expected to result in the typical retiree getting about $22 more per month. This change will increase the average monthly benefit for retired workers in January 2015 from $1,306 before the cost-of-living adjustment to $1,328 after. The average benefit for retired couples who are both receiving benefits is projected to increase by $36 to $2,176 per month.

Social Security payments are automatically adjusted each year to keep up with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Previous cost-of-living adjustments have ranged from zero in 2010 and 2011 to 14.3 percent in 1980. The 1.7 percent increase retirees will receive in January is similar to the 1.5 percent adjustment for 2014 and 1.7 percent increase in 2013.

Higher tax cap. Most workers pay 6.2 percent of every paycheck into the Social Security system until their earnings exceed the tax cap. The maximum taxable earnings will increase next year from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500 in 2015. About 10 million of the 168 million workers who pay into Social Security are expected to face higher taxes as a result of this change. People who earn more than the taxable maximum do not pay Social Security taxes on that amount or have those earnings factored into their future Social Security payments.

Larger earnings limits. Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 can earn as much as $15,720 in 2015, before $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $2 earned above the limit. Retirees who will turn 66 in 2015 and have signed up for Social Security can earn up to $41,880 before every $3 earned above the limit will result in one benefit dollar being withheld. However, once a retiree turns age 66 there is no limit on earnings and Social Security payments are recalculated to give the retiree credit for the withheld benefits.

Your statement might be in the mail. If you will turn age 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 next year and don’t have a Social Security online account, you can expect to receive a paper Social Security statement that lists your earnings history, taxes paid and expected benefit about 3 months before your birthday. And after age 60 workers will receive a statement annually.

The SSA expects to send nearly 48 million Social Security statements each year. These mailings, which were sent annually to all workers age 25 and older between 1999 and 2011, were suspended in April 2011 to save money.

Statements are also available online at any time via socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, and 14 million people have created personalized accounts using this service.

The maximum benefit increases. The maximum possible Social Security payment for a worker who signs up at full retirement age will be $2,663 per month in 2015, up $21 from $2,642 in 2014.

Yahoo Finance is answering your money questions on Tumblr! Got a question about your credit score, your student loans, your retirement portfolio, your health insurance, or anything else finance-related? Drop us a line: YFmoneymailbag@yahoo.com.

How Much is the Obamacare Penalty? What You’ll Pay For Not Having Health Insurance

This Saturday is the start of open enrollment for Covered California Healthcare Coverage. If you need health insurance and/or have any questions please feel to call me at 909-570-1103.

Don’t get penalized, it is a lot more than you think, see image below:

?
via:NerdWallet Health

The cost of the Obamacare penalty in 2014
If you went without “essential health benefits” for more than three months in 2014 and didn’t qualify for an exemption, you will be required to submit to the penalty on your tax return.

The cost of the 2014 Obamacare penalty is calculated in one of two ways, with you paying the higher amount. The penalty is either 1% of your taxable income, or it is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child with a maximum amount of $285.

Taxable income is figured every year on your tax return and includes your salary and adjustments for any additional income, exemptions and deductions. Your tax return walks you through how to determine this figure and will likewise help you determine the amount of your penalty.

So, for example, if a single person’s 2014 taxable income was $22,500, her 1% would be $225, far more than the individual penalty of $95 per adult. Therefore, she would be penalized the $225 because it is the greater of two fees.

Another example: If a single-income household with two adults and three children brings in $27,000, their 1% fee would be $270, but their flat fee would be $285. Their penalty would be $285, as it is the greater of the two options.

Mad Props: What You Need to Know Before You Vote…On Prop 45

Will government regulation improve or hinder how the state implements the Affordable Care Act?
October 28, 2014 Jesy Odio Politics

What it’s all about:
The Affordable Care Act instituted Covered California as the state’s individual health insurance exchange but failed to legislate how health insurance costs should be regulated. If approved, Prop 45 would give that authority to the state insurance commissioner. This would require health insurers to submit changes to the state for judicial review before they go into effect. Similar regulation was approved for auto and home insurance when Proposition 103 passed in 1988.

What it’s going to cost taxpayers: Nothing.

Who supports it: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, the California Democratic Party, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s secretary of health and human services

Why they do: Those who endorse Prop 45 believe giving the state insurance commissioner more authority would protect Californians from rate increases found to be excessive or unfairly discriminatory—which is even more important for consumers now that coverage is mandatory.

Who opposes it: Covered California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Blue Shield of California, Los Angeles Times, the California Republican Party, California Chamber of Commerce, Association of California Healthcare Districts, California Taxpayer Protection Committee

Why they do: Opponents agree with the prop’s proponents that it is important to regulate healthcare costs, but argue that this measure is deceiving and will in fact raise costs, not reduce them. They also believe it would give a politician power that is better served in the hands of doctors and patients and are critical of how poorly the proposition outlines how rates should be evaluated.

The takeaway: What’s appealing about Prop 45 is its mission to keep insurance companies in check, but unfortunately it doesn’t adequately address how specifically a state insurance commissioner should do so or how a newly empowered commissioner would be required to work with Covered California, leaving many reformers to think a more comprehensive solution is needed.

– See more at: http://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/mad-props-need-know-voteon-prop-45/#sthash.TQk6Mozd.dpuf

Health coverage renewal begins for 1.1 million enrollees in Californi Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/113279/health-coverage-renewal-begins-for-1-1-million-enrollees-in-california

It’s time to renew your health coverage. Give us call today if you need assistance with renewal or like to make a change.

Carlos

 

SACRAMENTO, California — The state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, has begun the renewal process for 1.12 million individuals who enrolled in plans in the exchange last year. It also unveiled improvements to make enrollment easier for 2015.

“Last year, we succeeded in signing up millions of Californians in health coverage through Covered California and Medi-Cal,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said.

“We do believe many significant improvements have been made that will assist our consumers during both renewal and open enrollment this year,” Lee added.

Consumers who complete the renewal process will hear from their insurance plans in December. Their selected health plan will send a statement reflecting coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015. Consumers who take no action will be renewed into their existing plan.

Individuals who have health coverage through Medi-Cal renew their coverage throughout the year, on a rolling monthly schedule. Medi-Cal will contact them directly if they need to take action. Unless they are contacted by Medi-Cal, these individuals do not need to go to the Covered California website to renew or apply.

Of the Californians who selected a plan during the initial open enrollment, 1,140,000 (or 81 percent) had their coverage take effect by paying their first month’s premium. A total of 1.12 million individuals have effectuated coverage and will be part of the renewal process.

Covered California expects this number to increase as special enrollment continues and as recent enrollees effectuate their coverage, with about 1.3 million Californians participating in the renewal process through the end of the year.

Covered California continues to gear up for open enrollment, which will begin November 15 and continue through February 15.

Open enrollment is the next opportunity for all Californians to benefit from new insurance rules, including the requirement that insurance be offered regardless of health status. In addition, this is the window of time when Californians can buy subsidized coverage starting in 2015.

Covered California has adopted changes, guided by a newly released report titled “Covered California Open Enrollment 2013-2014: Lessons Learned,” to improve consumers’ experience. The report commissioned by Covered California offers an in-depth look at Covered California’s work during the first open-enrollment period. It is available online at www.CoveredCA.com/resources/PDFs/10-14-2014-Lessons-Learned-final.pdf.

“At the same time, we know we have more work to do. We want Covered California to deliver best-in-class customer service, and we know we’re not there yet,” Lee said. “But we’re getting better every week, and we will continue to learn and improve.”

Covered California offers a range of choices of private health insurance plans. Consumers can choose the health plan and level of coverage (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum) that best meets their health needs and budget.

For more information about the enrollment numbers, see the October 2014 “Individual Market Enrollment Report” o