I think we all have this person in our lives: “I take care of myself. Don’t ask anyone for anything. I just want everybody to take care of themselves and that’s that! I can take care of myself!”
The notion of taking care of yourself and not being super dependent on others has some attraction for many of us, and is a source of pride, even. But there are times when it just makes sense to accept help that’s offered.
You may have seen me write before about my battle with bone cancer in my early 20s. I can tell you that before I knew I was sick, I was 100% financially independent. I was working three jobs AND going to college. I worked offshore in the oilfields in the summers, paying my own way, and even bought my own car and maintained it myself. My 22-year-old pride revolved around the fact that I was independent and making my own decisions, living my own life.
Imagine how fast that came crashing down when the doc looked me in the eye and said there was a 50/50 chance I’d be dead in three years. But I have to say, the illusion of independence was sweet while it lasted! So good.
I worry that we have a whole new crop of pre-diagnosis versions of 22-year-old me out there right now. They have access to a LOT of money, but for various reasons aren’t taking it and as a result, they are paying WAY too much for their health insurance.
I’m talking about those buying individual health insurance here in Louisiana.
You Can Use Tax Credits to Pay for That
Last year (2022), almost 90,000 Louisianians received advanced tax credits to help them buy health insurance on Healthcare.gov. They received an AVERAGE of $7,896 off their premiums EACH YEAR. That’s coming from federal tax dollars that you and I have already paid in, which are being received back by our friends and neighbors here in Louisiana to help them pay for their health insurance. It’s a big deal.
Imagine my surprise when a recent data dive showed me that here at Blue Cross, we have more than 28,000 customers buying individual policies who are NOT using Healthcare.gov, thus leaving all the tax credits they are eligible for on the table. Over 28,000 people leaving behind hundreds of millions of dollars!
Now, I know everybody’s got their reasons.
Of those 28,000 people, 16,000 are still enrolled in basically the exact same health insurance policy they had on March 23, 2010 – almost 13 years ago. They are considered grandfathered under the ACA rules. If you are hanging onto grandfathered coverage, you are not eligible to receive federal money either up front on Healthcare.gov, nor on your annual tax return filings to the IRS. Whatever money you might be eligible for is just sitting there. I understand some people really like their Blue Cross policy from 2010 because it’s probably got coverage levels that just aren’t available on the federal marketplace. And, it likely started out much cheaper. So, it made sense at one time.
Now, I’m afraid, with the greatly enhanced tax credits on Healthcare.gov already approved through 2025 and available to people with MUCH higher incomes, grandfathered plans may not be the deal they once were. It’s a REALLY good idea to look again. The money available for financial help buying the new plans is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. If you are still on a grandfathered plan, make sure your agent is showing you all the alternatives every single year. You may be leaving thousands of dollars on the table. Remember: It costs you nothing to work with an agent to look at your options, and there is no obligation to buy a new plan or switch plans just because you work with one.
Don’t Shop Alone – Use Healthcare.gov
The other 12,000 people not buying on Healthcare.gov is more of a mystery to me. They essentially are buying the EXACT SAME PLANS listed on Healthcare.gov but not going through the site, so they aren’t getting any of the financial benefits. This means no tax credits up front, and no tax credits at tax filing time. I have this nagging suspicion that these 12,000 people are leaving tons of money they deserve on the table – most likely because they were unaware it was available. We all work and pay taxes, so why on earth wouldn’t you want to get some of that money back if you qualify? I sure would.
IF these 28,000 people went on Healthcare.gov to enroll in their health plan, their total tax credits could be $221 MILLION. Yep, that’s right, we may be leaving $221 MILLION on the table. Or to put it another way, these 28,000 people could be paying $221 MILLION too much for their health insurance. That’s almost $8,000 too much each, every year! Could you use an $8,000 discount on your health insurance premiums?
Anyone can shop and purchase on Healthcare.gov, so there is no reason not to at least look. Unsure where to start? I put together this video (3:46) to help people estimate what their tax credit might be.
The Straight Talk is, if you are still holding a grandfathered individual policy, or you are buying new coverage outside of Healthcare.gov, I would encourage you to run those numbers again. Your savings could be substantial!
And, connect with an experienced agent to get FREE help exploring your options:
Visit GetPlanOptions.com or call 1-844-GET-BLUE (1-844-438-2583; TTY 711).