BCBSM encourages Michigan consumers not to leave free money on the table when buying health insurance
Michigan residents who are uninsured or exploring their health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act now can send a text message to determine their eligibility for subsidies to help them pay part of their premiums, thanks to a new program launched today by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Beginning in 2014, all Americans are required to have health coverage or pay a tax penalty. To help lower- and middle-income people pay their premiums, the ACA established subsidies. In an effort to guide and educate consumers as to whether they are eligible for financial assistance, The Blues launched “Text for Subsidy,” a program to allow consumers to receive subsidy estimates via text message.
Under the “Text for Subsidy” program, people can text “4Subsidy” to 222-752 to initiate a back and forth exchange. Provide your zip code, age, income and number of dependents, and Blue Cross will respond with whether or not they are eligible for a subsidy. Individuals and families with incomes at or below 133% of Federal Poverty Level will be alerted of possible eligibility for Medicaid. BCBSM also offers an online subsidy estimator.
Subsidies are only applicable to new ACA compliant products. Consumers cannot qualify for a subsidy if they remain in a pre-reform health plan. Subsidies can provide consumers with better-quality coverage at rates that are close to what they have today, or even lower.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan encourages consumers to consider all their options before turning away free money from the government to help them buy better coverage. About 50 percent of The Blues’ individual members qualify for subsidies under the ACA, and roughly half of the population in Michigan also qualifies.
The premium tax subsidy is based on an individual’s 2012 reported income and family size to the IRS. Once the subsidy has been established, individuals can apply the credit in several ways:
- Apply none of it to the monthly premiums, and receive the lump sum as a tax credit at the end of the year.
- Apply all of it to the monthly premiums to lower the amount paid each month.
- Apply some of it to the monthly premiums to lower the premium, and get the rest as a tax credit. This option helps to avoid owing the government if your income increases during the year.
Those eligible for subsidies are within the following income levels:
General Household Income Guidelines for Subsidy Assistance
Number of people in consumer’s family/household seeking coverage
An individual making an annual income of less than the amounts below (400% of the Federal Poverty Level) may quality for a subsidy.
An individual makes less than the amounts listed below (250% of the federal poverty level), they may also qualify for reduced silver plan cost sharing.
BCBSM is the only health insurance company to offer ACA-compliant health plans in all 83 Michigan counties, many of which are among the lowest-priced health plans available. Individuals and families not eligible for subsidies can enroll in a qualified health plan by calling a Blue Cross health plan advisor at 855-892-8089. People also can enroll through licensed health insurance agents. Those who are eligible for a subsidy, however, must enroll through healthcare.gov – either online, over the phone or by submitting a paper application, and Blue Cross health plan advisors can help consumers with the process.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Kontur