Could Benefits Work Like Taxes? A Look at Individual Health Insurance
My 10-year-old self loved tax season. I didn’t understand any of it, but what I did understand was that my parents somehow got extra money from this thing called taxes sometime in April, and then we would go spend it on something fun. During my youngest years, I’d see my dad at home with all these important papers on the kitchen table and long official forms. It felt like it would take him weeks.
Then one day, we took all of those papers to a special green building with a very nice person who used some fancy software to help us get those taxes done faster and better. I could tell my dad was happy. And, I was also happy because we got our extra money to spend even faster. Eventually, my dad stopped going to the special green building and used this even fancier website tool. We didn’t have to leave the house this time, he was done quicker, and he had remote assistance from some other really nice people.
Great service and special technology changed everything for my family’s tax experience.
But what about health insurance?
Well, if you’re like most of Americans, your health insurance experience begins with lots of paper strewn all over your kitchen table. You probably got it at your open enrollment meeting at work. Most of those papers consist of phrases and numbers that have no particular meaning to you.
Many people weed through the plans and just pick out “that middle option” and turn in the stack of papers and signatures. It sure would have been great to have some help like my family got back in the day. Unfortunately, they don’t do that for health insurance do they? That’s your responsibility as an employee, right?
What if you could get guidance on choosing your health insurance?
The truth is, you can. You just likely won’t find that kind of guidance from someone in the group health benefits world. There are laws and guidelines about ways to make your health insurance more affordable, and the average American worker doesn’t even know they exist.
For example, did you know that there are tax credits available to help pay for your health insurance? You might think you wouldn’t qualify for any, but 70% of Americans actually would qualify for tax credits.
Then why don’t I get them? The issue is that when an employer offers traditional group insurance, it means you can’t access those tax credits. Specifically, the Advanced Premium Tax Credit is a tax credit that automatically discounts your insurance product. (But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait for a refund on it. Your carrier and the IRS figure all of that out for you.)
And, did you know that you will always have more options when shopping for individual health insurance than you do for group options? Sure, sometimes you’ll get 2 or 3 options with group. But regularly, you’ll have anywhere from 5 to 30 options for individual insurance, including different carriers, levels of plan designs and networks.
You can also access Christian sharing ministries, which are great options for many people. There are way more choices in the individual space than the old group route, yet, many people don’t even know the individual health insurance space exists. (Which seems as odd as if people didn’t know about their Child Tax Credits, you know?)
How can I learn more about individual health insurance options?
Now we’re back to that same big issue: how in the world are most workers supposed to know about this, pick out the best plan, keep it all organized, etc.? Thankfully, there are new services and technologies available to help with just that!
In the same way you have seen the emergence of many different tax solutions, the same is true for health insurance. No matter what sort of organization you’re a part of, there is likely a more affordable solution for you and your staff. There are so many innovative ways to better steward your resources around health benefits and take good care of your team.
So this begs the question: when was the last time you evaluated all of the options your family or your staff has for health insurance?