7 Key Health Insurance Tips to Get the New Year Started Off Right

It’s the beginning of the New Year and the news and information about health care has never been more confusing for more people. Health care expert Jonathan P. Warner provides 7 important and timely health care insurance tips to give you a strong start to your new year.

1.If you have a Health Savings Account and did not fully fund it in 2013, you have until April 15, 2014 to maximize tax deductible deferrals of $3,250 individual and $6,450 with dependents, plus $1,000 catch up if you are age 55 and older. Maximum deferrals for HSAs in 2014 are $3,300 individual and $6,550 with dependents.

2.Think of HSAs as health care retirement accounts. Forecasts show that seniors living into their mid-80s will spend more than $150,000 on premiums and out of pocket costs above what is covered by Medicare.

3. About a third of employer-sponsored health insurance plans are grandfathered and do not include coverage of preventive care services.

4. Consider your historical health insurance usage when choosing a new plan. If your usage is limited, then accept reasonable risk and enroll in a plan with deductibles and coinsurance.

5. If your plan allows for HSAs, deposit a portion of the premium savings into your own HSA to build a reserve for future time when you have higher health care costs. Drip money into your HSA now so the burden of a gusher cost to satisfy out of pocket costs is saved when you need it for future health care expenses.

6. You have until March 31, 2014 to enroll in a Marketplace health insurance at www.healthcare.gov without penalty. If you enroll by March, your coverage is effective May 1, 2014. If you enroll in January, coverage is effective March 1st. If enrolling in February, your coverage will be effective April 1st.

Although a moving target at its outset, the current understanding for signing up is as follows: If enrollment occurs between January 16 and February 15, coverage is effective March 1st. If between February 16 and March 15, coverage is effective April 1st. If enrollment is completed between March 16 and March 31, coverage is effective May 1st.Regardless of coverage effective date, the next renewal date will be January 1, 2015. The Open Enrollment period to change and update coverage selections will run from November 15, 2014 through January 15, 2015

7. If you are eligible for Medicare, signing up for Social Security automatically enrolls you in Medicare Part A (Hospitalization). Consider delaying this enrollment if you plan on working until age 70, as once enrolled you can no longer deposit tax deductible funds into an HSA.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year!