HEALTH INSURANCE SHOULD be a simple topic.
We all need it. Always difficult to navigate, it’s become
more complicated of late. This article goes over the
changes to the law regarding personal health insurance and how Costco Services may be able to help.
Q. What’s the deal with health-care reform?
A. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in
2010 as a means for Americans to make informed
choices about their health. The bill calls for incremental changes to the way we obtain insurance. Some
things are no longer allowable, such as exclusions for
pre-existing health conditions, and some things are
now allowable, such as covering dependent children
until they turn 26. Most Americans are now required
to have health insurance, except for low-income
individuals and those who are unable to find affordable coverage. Government subsidies are available for
those who qualify.
One aspect of the law is ensuring that minimum essential health benefits are included in every
small group or individual policy.
• Ambulatory patient services
• Emergency services
• Laboratory services
• Maternity and newborn care
• Mental health and substance-use
disorder services, including behavioral
• Pediatric services, including oral
and vision care
• Prescription drugs
• Preventive and wellness services
and chronic disease management
• Rehabilitative and habilitative
services and devices
Q. What if I already have health insurance?
A. Most policies will renew on January, however,
many plans may have changes to policy terms, plan
design or pricing. Some provisions of the coverage
may change to be in compliance with the law. In
some instances, carriers may leave a coverage area
or discontinue plans. Be sure to review all correspondence from your insurance carrier. You
should be able to find coverage on various federal,
state and private exchanges, commonly referred to
Q. What if I don’t have health insurance and don’t
A. The law calls for penalties for those who are able to
obtain health insurance but don’t do so. The amount
is the greater of a flat amount—the 2015 penalty is
a $325 federal tax add-on—or 2 percent of income.
Q. Is there a particular time to sign up for health
A. This year’s annual open enrollment period
started on November 15, 2014, and will end on
February 15, 2015. You must enroll by the end
date to avoid a tax penalty for the year. After open
enrollment ends, special enrollment periods allow
people who have had a life-changing event, such
as a marriage or divorce, loss of employment or
employer-sponsored coverage, to enroll outside
of open enrollment without incurring a penalty.
Verification of coverage will be required on your
2015 Federal Tax Return.
Q. If my employer doesn’t offer health insurance, how
can I get it?
A. Health-care exchanges or marketplaces—
basically, shopping sites for health-care plans—have
been set up by the federal and state governments,
and private parties. These sites generally allow you to
compare the plans offered in your area. C
What you need to know
about the new rules Q. Can I get health-care
coverage through Costco?
A. Costco Services is offering
a Costco Health Insurance
Marketplace, exclusively for
Costco members. Plans are
offered, in most states, for
individuals and businesses.
In addition to standard health
insurance plans, short-term
plans are available. You don’t
have to be a Costco member
to compare plans, but you
will need to provide a Costco
membership number to enroll.
With all the choices you
now have available, answers
can lead to more questions.
But, again, Costco Services
may be able to help. Licensed
agents are standing by to help
you navigate through a num-
ber of topics, including:
• Affordable Care Act
• Benefits explanations
• Eligibility questions
• Enrollment assistance
• Insurance carrier
Costco Executive mem-
bers receive even more value,
To compare plans, get
more comprehensive informa-
tion on health-care reform or
talk directly to an agent, go to