While Americans scramble to figure out how they can take advantage of the Affordable Care Act while it still exists, President Trump continues to try to dismantle it. This week he is saying that removing the penalty for those that do not buy health insurance would be an immediate reduction in taxes.
Americans like the sound of tax cuts, but in the first few days of open enrollment the Affordable Care Act exchanges experienced an exceptional level of “first time” enrollments. Apparently fear of the unknown (what will happen if the ACA is cut/repealed?) is a bigger driving factor than hoping for the penalty to be waived under the new tax plan.
So how is that penalty calculated and how much would you really save on your taxes?
The penalty becomes applicable If you go more than three full, consecutive months without health insurance. For 2017 the penalty is 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a maximum of $2,085.
If you are a healthy, young adult this may be tempting. But consider this: without health insurance, non-surgical treatment for a broken leg typically costs up to $2500 or more for a fracture that requires a cast. If that break requires surgery you start looking at a cost of $17,000 to $35,000. No matter how young and healthy you are, things can happen. What if you get the flu? A trip to the ER (not including all of the diagnostics and lab tests that might have to be run) averages $1,233. It is common practice these days for the ER Medical professionals to send their own bills, you can easily rack up a $3,000 – $5,000 bill in one visit. Even with a high deductible and co-pays, the chances are your health insurance will save you a great deal of money.
At what point does the risk out weigh the reward of not having health insurance?
Even if you hope to get that “tax cut” that President Trump is tweeting about, now is the time to at least look into your current options. The 45 day open enrollment period is already down to only 30 days left.
Open enrollment started on November 1 and ends on December 15th 2017. This open enrollment period is only 45 days compared to 90 days last year.
There are new options for health care that can help you avoid the penalty but still minimize your costs for health insurance. Even if you are young and healthy, if you are on your own for getting healthcare coverage, this is the time to look into your options.
If you have a pre-existing condition, are pregnant or might become pregnant, now is the time to act.