Readers' questions answered on Affordable Care Act
In a live chat on the Orlando Sentinel's website, Anne Packham, lead navigator for Central Florida for the federal Affordable Care Act, answered questions from readers on how to sign up for insurance.
QUESTION: I am unemployed at the moment, and I don't know what my income will be for 2014. Do I declare my income for 2014 to be based on what I am currently getting in unemployment insurance?
ANSWER: You declare your income based on your current situation. That may qualify you for a subsidy. If you get a job and your income changes, you need to declare that to the government so that you won't wind up owing your subsidy back. The online marketplace – Healthcare.gov – should provide that information on how to change your circumstances.
Q: Can I see the plans or get general information when I go to Healthcare.gov without giving my private email address?
A: You can get general information without enrolling. But if you want information about which plans you might qualify for, how much your premium might be, et cetera, you do need to enroll in the marketplace. Just because you give your information for eligibility, you don't have to choose a plan or commit to anything. If you want to set up a different email because you fear spam, you can set one up free through Gmail or Yahoo.
Q: I have lived in Florida for more than 40 years. But I have recently become a "snowbird" as I care for my elderly mother in Ohio. This year, I have spent more time in Ohio than in Florida. Can I shop for health insurance in both states to find the best deal, or must I buy insurance in the state where I maintain my residence?
A: You should enroll in the state where you expect to obtain most of your health care. You'll want to choose a plan that has a large number of providers out of network. Before you purchase a plan, you will want to contact the individual plan and make sure they have in-network providers in both states.
Q: How do the bronze versus silver plans break down as far as out-of-pocket expenses?
A: Generally the bronze plans have a lower cost to you in terms of premium, but you will wind up paying 40 percent of your medical costs. Silver, you'll pay 30 percent.
Q: I am a 30-year-old stay-at-home mother. I have the money to pay for health insurance but do not qualify because of a pre-existing condition. I do not qualify for Medicaid. Will these changes be able to help me get the health care I so desperately need?
A: A provision of the Affordable Care Act is to eliminate the pre-existing-conditions stipulation from the requirement to get health insurance. So the law should help you.
Q: I am 63 and only work part-time, so I don't make a lot, but I have about $140,000 in a taxable account. Besides last year's tax information, do they also take into account investments?
A: Only the investment income that is taxable could be considered your income.
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