Friday, September 7, 2012

Good news: We're back online

We've got our website back online. Thanks for your patience.

Our website's down; we're working to fix it

Our agency website (www.insurance.wa.gov) is currently down, due to a major network problem affecting multiple state agencies.

Even if you can access the site, you won't be able conduct transactions or do use our other online applications.

We and others are working hard to resolve the problem.

Who will have to pay a penalty for not having health coverage?

If federal health care reform takes effect as planned in 2014, some people will pay a penalty of $95 if they do not have health coverage. (This is what's known as the individual mandate.)

And the penalties would get bigger. In 2015, it would be $325. In 2016 and beyond, it would be $695.

But will you have to pay?

For most people, the answer's no. There are a number of exemptions. There's a religious exemption, for example. Members of Indian tribes are exempt. Very poor individuals and families -- such as a family living on less than $18,700 a year) are exempt. So are those that have to pay more than 8 percent of their income  for health insurance.

Also, most people already have coverage that already satisfies the requirement. If you're on Medicare, for example, there's no penalty. If you're on TRICARE (the health plan for members of the military, retirees and their families), there's no penalty. If you get coverage through the VA, through your employer, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Program, there's no penalty.

The Kaiser Family Foundation offers an excellent, simple flowchart that lays this out in more detail. It includes estimates on the cost of insurance through the new health care exchanges, and a link to a KFF online calculator to help figure out premiums and tax credits to help you buy coverage.