Tomorrow is Deadline For Feb. 1 Obamacare Coverage

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You want to secure coverage under Obamacare and have it effective in February?

You have about 24 hours.

Open enrollment for 2014 runs through March 31, but for people who enroll by Jan. 15, coverage takes effect on Feb. 1. Anyone who signs up from Jan. 16-30 will see their coverage start March 1.

Currently, the Idaho exchange includes health care coverage from four carriers — Blue Cross of Idaho, BridgeSpan, PacificSource and SelectHealth — and they provide plans in four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Simply put, the bronze plans cost less monthly but have high deductibles and co-pays. Conversely, platinum plans cost more monthly but have very low deductibles and co-pays. Bronze plans cover approximately 60 percent of what insured might normally pay for health care in a year. The remaining 40 percent would be the approximate out-of-pocket expenses that a patient would incur through doctor visits, treatments and prescriptions. Silver plans offer a 70/30 ratio; gold is 80/20 and platinum is 90/10.

In Idaho, the four approved carriers offer a total of 43 different plans through the exchange: 14 bronze plans, 15 silver, 11 gold and two platinum.

The cutoff for signing up through the exchange is March 31.

“And then, you won’t be able to purchase through the exchange until the next period opens in October,” said David Chase, an in-person assister with Boise-based Mountain States Group. “And you better keep in mind that you will be penalized if you don’t have insurance coverage for three months or more. In the first year, the penalty is $95 per person ($47.50 for children) or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher. In year 2, it doubles. By year 3, it’s $600 per person or 2.5 percent of your income. Let’s face it; they want people to pay that money to get health insurance, not to pay penalties.”

Your Health Idaho announced Jan. 13 that 19,922 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan from an Idaho carrier through the exchange.

In Wednesday's Boise Weekly, we examine the deadlines, tax credits and penalties as Idaho and the nation count down the last weeks before the cutoff.