Beginning this year, most Americans are required to have health insurance or face tax penalty on their 2014 tax returns filed in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act.
With open enrollment around the corner, selecting a health plan that is right for you, your family’s needs, and wallet is important.
And whether you are switching to a plan purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace, purchasing private insurance or staying insured under your parents or employer, it might be tricky to navigate your health benefits so you get the most out of your coverage. Fortunately, Turbo Tax Health can help.
Below are our five easy tips to help you maximize your benefits and get the most out of your health insurance plan.
Knowledge is Power
First and foremost, you have to understand exactly what costs are covered under your health care plan so you can plan ahead. Health plans vary state to state and from provider to provider. Make it a priority to educate yourself, so you can better understand exactly what your health insurance covers. This will help you make choices that will help you plan your budget.
Whether you are insured through your employer, privately or through the Marketplace, one of the easiest ways to maximize your coverage is to stay in network.
If you pick a health care provider that is in your network, you are likely only responsible for your co-payment and any deductible or coinsurance.
If you choose to see an out-of-network provider you may end up responsible for a much larger portion or the entire fee. To find out who is in your network, you can contact your insurance directly for a list of providers in your area. There are also great tools like ZocDoc that can suggest providers that participate in your network.
Take Advantage of A Flexibility Spending Account
With an FSA (flexible spending account), you can set aside money from your paycheck before taxes, and then use it for medical expenses throughout the year.
FSAs are especially useful when you know you’ll incur a lot of medical expenses during the year (such as non-urgent medical procedures and expensive treatments).
Typically, you can choose the amount, but it is important to note that FSAs do have maximum amount you can contribute up to $2,500 . You also have to make sure you use most of the amount saved in your account by the year-end.
Depending on your account there may be a grace period after year-end for you to use the funds or you may be reimbursed up to $500 of your unused amounts without losing it. So before you go this route, read through the terms and conditions.
For many, prescription costs can really add up — especially if you don’t have prescription coverage in your plan. There are a few things you could do to minimize these costs.
When you can, ask your doctor for generic substitutes on medications. Generic medications are usually the same as name brand but cost much less, and your insurance may cover all, or a large part, of the costs.
All plans purchased through the Marketplace must offer prescription coverage, so this may be worth exploring if you anticipate needing a lot of medications in the future.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Finally, the best way to stay ahead of personal health care is to take care of yourself. This means getting regular check-ups on time, staying physically active, eating right and getting plenty of sleep.
Taking care of yourself will help you stay healthy, so you can avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor and costly treatments.
As with all tax laws, TurboTax is up-to-date with the latest tax law changes. If you have more questions about the Affordable Care Act and how it impacts you and your taxes, you can visit TurboTax Health to get answers.