Health Insurance and Tax Breaks: New Rules for the Self-Employed

If you, your spouse or an adult child is self-employed, no doubt you already know just how expensive insurance is in the individual market.  Moreover, you know how difficult is to find comprehensive coverage when you’re buying your own insurance.  For example, most policies don’t cover pre-natal care, or child-birth– a huge problem for young women.

But under the Affordable Care Act everything changes. Beginning in January, you will be able to purchase a policy in your state’s Exchange—a one-stop marketplace where you can shop for plans. They will be easy to compare because all policies sold in the Exchanges must cover “10 essential benefits”  including pre-natal care, maternity, dental and vision care for children, rehab and mental health care.  There will be no no co-pays for preventive care and the deductible does not apply.No matter how much care you or your family need, there will be a cap on your out-of-pocket expenses of roughly $6,000 for a single individual or $12,000 for a family. (These rules apply to anyone buying their own insurance in the Individual Exchange, whether they are self-employed, unemployed, or work for an employer who doesn’t offer affordable, comprehensive health benefits.)

                                 Lower Premiums, Subsidies

In the Exchange, you will automatically become part of a large group, and as a result, premiums will be lower than the premiums you would papy today for similar coverage.

 Moreover, depending on your income, you may be eligible for a subsidy. For example, a 30-year-old couple with joint income of $45,000 would receive a subsidy of roughly $2700 and wind up paying $4,000 a year for comprehensive coverage that includes free preventive care. (This is a national average)  

 What You May Not Know about Health Insurance and Tax Deductions

You probably are aware that if you are self-employed and buy your own medical, dental or long-term care insurance, you can deduct premiums for an individual or a family plan on your income tax.

But did you know that if:  

You Have Children under 27, you also can deduct premiums you pay for  them–even if they are no longer your dependents?  

 You or  Your Spouse Receive Medicare, the IRS has now ruled that you can deduct Medicare premiums for Parts A, B, C and D?  This is in addition to the deduction for insurance that you or your spouse buy in an  Exchange.

                              How Much Can You Deduct?

To calculate your allowable health insurance deduction, take your self-employment income, and subtract the 50% deduction for self-employment taxes. Then subtract any retirement contributions made to SEP-IRA, SIMPLE-IRA, or Keogh plan. The remainder is how much you can deduct for health insurance expenses.


Problems with Health Insurance? Under the Affordable Care Act You Will No Longer Be Alone

If you sent in your health insurance payment on time, and paid it the way you always have (as a direct withdrawal from you checking count), but made a mistake when you put the checking account number on your payment,  would you expect that your insurer would drop you?

What if your insurer sent you an email a few days after you sent in your payment saying “Your payment has been received? Wouldn’t you assume that you were still insured?

Mike Holden did. He was wrong.

Yesterday, he sent an email explaining his story.  

 “On March 16, I paid my family’s monthly health insurance bill to United Healthcare (UHC) the same way I have for almost a year now. But I was using a new bank account that we set up after a recent move. Unfortunately, I entered the account number incorrectly. It turns out I left off three digits that are part of the account number but listed separately on the checks.”

Holden had no idea that he had made a mistake. On March 20, he received an email from UHC saying “Your payment has been received.”

Yet in April, when he went online to pay his family’s April bill, he was told his coverage had been terminated. He then talked to a customer service representative at UHC and received a letter explaining that he had until March 31 to correct his mistake.

Unfortunately, the letter, which was postmarked March 27, went to his old address. .

He appealed to UHC, explaining the problem and asking that his insurance be reinstated,

He then received a letter telling him that his appeal had been denied:  “United Healthcare Benefit Services follows the guidelines for payments and grace periods defined by the Department of Labor. Your account has been reviewed and the termination remains, as payment was not received within the guidelines provided.”

                          How the Affordable Care Act Brings Us Together

Beginning in 2014, people like Mike Holden will no longer be alone, trying to stand up to insurance companies. Individuals and families who buy their own insurance will be able to purchase coverage in “Exchanges”—marketplaces where insures will be regulated and individuals and families who purchase their own insurance will become part of a large group. There, they will have far more clout than they do now.
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