Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
The open enrollment period for 2016 health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act begins in November, so if you’re ready to switch health insurance providers, or are on the open marketplace for the first time, now might be a good time to get educated.
Under the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, all Americans are eligible for health insurance coverage. Plans are available via state-run marketplaces in several states and through a federal marketplace for people in states that don’t have a plan. According to healthcare.gov, Americans not covered through a job, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or another source can use the marketplace to find and enroll in a plan that fits their budget and health care needs.
Enrolling through a marketplace can be the right option for those who don’t have other health insurance, as the Affordable Care Act requires uninsured people to either obtain coverage or pay a penalty. In 2016, this penalty fee is either 2.5 percent of your yearly household income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18, whichever amount is higher.
“Update your information, shop around, see what’s available, and compare–that’s what the marketplace is for,” says Sandy Ahn, a research fellow with the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University. “See if you can get a better value for the money you’re paying.”
If you’re in the market for insurance, you may want to consider asking your health insurance provider a few basic questions to ensure you’re getting the right plan for your health care needs:
How much will my plan cost?
The marketplace offers plans in five categories: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic. The plan you choose determines how you and your insurer share the costs of care, according to healthcare.gov.
Having insurance through the marketplace results in three basic kinds of expenses:
“People need to find out how much will the premium be vs. out-of-pocket costs. What’s the deductible; what’s the co-insurance; what’s the co-pay? All those things are going to help someone balance what kind of insurance coverage they need,” Ahn says. “Maybe some plans have a lower premium but a higher co-pay or deductible. If you’re using insurance a lot, you won’t want that plan because it might be more expensive in the long run despite the lower premium.”
Don’t be surprised if costs for some insurance plans in the marketplace go up for 2016. It can save you money to investigate your options thoroughly, noting which plans have increased in cost. Any insurers in the marketplace that want to increase rates more than 10 percent have filed narratives available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website at cms.gov.
Am I eligible for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act?
According to information from the Kaiser Family Foundation, two kinds of subsidies are available under the Affordable Care Act: the advanced premium tax credit, which lowers your monthly premium payments, and cost-sharing reduction, which reduces your out-of-pocket expenses during the year for health care you receive.
Whether you qualify for a subsidy depends on your income in comparison to the federal poverty level; you can be eligible if you make up to four times that amount). Qualifying for a subsidy also depends on your family size and how much health insurance costs where you live.
The foundation offers a health insurance marketplace calculator on its website to help you determine whether you’re eligible for subsidies and how much various plans might cost.
How will the plan affect my access to care?
According to a September 2014 article in Consumer Reports, regardless of the plan you purchase, all plans will cover the following:
However, different plan types can provide for different levels of coverage for costs charged by doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare providers inside and outside of the plan’s network. If you have questions about your plan’s coverage, it’s always important to ask.
“You may need to ask, ‘Is the doctor I like in the network? Is the hospital down the street covered by this insurance?’ ” Ahn says.
It’s important to know that if you’ve had a change of circumstances, for example an increase in health care costs or loss of household income, you should update your information.
“Things change. Health plans can change, prices can change, the value of your tax credit can change,” Ahn says. “You absolutely must update your information.”
If you’re planning to purchase insurance from the marketplace, you can preview plans and prices in your area, apply online, or find more information at www.healthcare.gov.
Megan Craig is a Chicago-based journalist and communications professional who writes mostly about personal finance and consumer issues. She is a former reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @megcraig1.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.