by Pat Hammond on Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Love it or hate it, the fact remains the same, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, typically referred to as Obamacare or ACA, has created a lot of headaches for sole proprietors, and with this year's tax penalty for not having ACA compliant insurance at 2.5% of your household adjusted gross income, those headaches have gone from being a gentle throbbing in your temple to an ice pick in your brain.
The things you have to think about when buying insurance are overwhelming and the clock is ticking.
How is an overworked entrepreneur supposed to get up to speed on a topic as vast and confusing as insurance by the end of January?
What if I told you that the easiest way to find the answers you need, including the best options for your lifestyle and budget, was absolutely free?
Unlike a legal or tax problem that requires an expensive visit to a lawyer or certified public accountant, all you need to do to get answers to your critical health insurance questions is talk to a licensed insurance broker.
Insurance brokers go through rigorous training and testing before they can be licensed by the state and their paycheck comes in the form of commissions from the insurance company instead of your pocket.
Since the open enrollment deadline is less than two weeks away I took the opportunity to sit down with Tim Hirsch from Omni Insurance Brokerage to talk about the challenges New Hampshire entrepreneurs face shopping for health insurance and how an insurance broker can help you to overcome them.
There is no doubt about it, reading an insurance policy is second only to the tax code when it comes to legalese, double talk, and obscure reference and by giving enforcement of the ACA to the IRS, the government has effectively combined the two most confusing topics known to a small business owner into one heartburn inducing package.
Hirsch says most sole proprietors don't realize they have options when it comes to finding health insurance. We hear a lot about which companies are offering plans on healthcare.gov, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. He says there are not only "many different ways to get health insurance, but there are usually multiple options people don't know about."
Startups and small business owners live in a world where they are paying for coverage out-of-pocket. There is no benefits coordinator negotiating rates, no employer contributions, and since many startups operate on a shoestring budget there isn't much wiggle room when it comes to how much they can afford to pay.
Left to their own devices, many are content to gamble on a budget-friendly catastrophic policy that covers major expenses and pay for routine office visits out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, the ACA requires that all plans must cover a very long, specific list of preventative care services if you want to avoid that hefty ACA penalty which means that the price tag of even the most basic high-deductible policy found on the exchange is now out of reach for a lot of people.
As Hirsch points out, "sole proprietors are not insurance professionals." Most come from a corporate background where a benefits coordinator handles everything, so shopping for health insurance is new to them. And he's right.
For many of New Hampshire's entrepreneurs, finding affordable health insurance is a minefield of confusion and hidden costs that should not be traversed without an insurance professional.
If you're overwhelmed or simply wondering if the plan you found online is really the best you can do, talk to Tim Hirsch or another licensed insurance broker.
Unlike an agent who sells one insurance company's products, a broker is shopping all of the available insurance plans for the best prices and plans to fit your needs and budget.
A licensed broker can help you:
If you are stressing about having to choose between paying a large IRS fine or purchasing an ACA compliant health plan you can't afford to actually use, there is hope. Hirsch assures me there are a number of plans available beyond what you find on healthcare.gov and that he or any licensed insurance broker in New Hampshire can help you find the right plan to protect you and your family without breaking the bank.
1.Per the healthcare.gov website, the fee for not having health insurance in 2016 & 2017 is calculated at 2.5 percent of your adjusted household income with the maximum fine equal to the total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan sold through the Marketplace or $695 per adult $347.50 per child under 18 with a maximum penalty of $2,085. You'll pay whichever penalty is higher.
If you would like to speak to Tim Hirsch about your health insurance options you can reach him by phone at firstname.lastname@example.org email at