Senior Voice -

By Rita Hatch
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Taxes, reports, fees and your health benefits

News and Views from Rita

 


People with Medicare can get off to a healthy start in the new year. Medicare covers a full range of preventive services to help keep you healthy and find problems early, when treatment is most effective.

If you have Original Medicare, you’ll be able to get a yearly “Wellness” visit and many preventive services at no cost to you. Talk with your doctor or health care provider to find out what tests or other services you may need.

Medical assistance and your taxes

If you are one of the millions of Americans who benefited from financial help to lower the cost of your monthly health insurance premiums, you are required to file a tax return and report the amount of financial assistance you received.

Now that you know your final income for the year, you need to reconcile the difference between the amount of financial assistance you received during the year to help lower the cost of your premiums with the actual amount you should have received based on your 2015 earnings.

Information included on your Form 1095-A will help you do this. If you do not file a tax return and reconcile your financial help, you will not be eligible to receive financial help in the future.

If you have health insurance through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid

If you and everyone in your household had coverage for the entire year through your employer, Medicare, Medicaid or any other qualifying coverage, you’ll simply need to check a box on your federal income tax return to indicate that you had coverage for all of 2015.

You might receive a tax document called a Form 1095-B or a Form 1095-C in the mail from your employer, your insurance company, or the government program that provides your coverage, like Medicare or Medicaid. You don’t need to attach this information to your tax return or wait to receive the form before filling your tax return out, but if you receive one this year you should keep it in a safe place with your other tax records.

For anyone who didn’t have health coverage in 2015

That is, if you were not on Medicare/Medicaid or any other health insurance and you didn’t have health coverage for all or part of 2015, you either will have to pay a fee with your federal income tax return or will need to qualify for a health coverage exemption.

If you have to pay the fee.

If affordable health insurance options were available, but you chose to not enroll in coverage for 2015 and you do not qualify for an exemption, you may be required to pay the fee when you pay your 2015 federal income taxes. The fee for not having health coverage in 2015 is generally $325 per person or 2 percent of your annual household income – whichever is higher.

If you qualify for an exemption and don’t have to pay the fee. While those who can afford health coverage but chose not to enroll may have to pay a fee, people who couldn’t afford coverage or met other conditions can receive an exemption from the requirement to purchase health insurance for 2015. There is a tool on the HealthCare.gov website to help you determine if you might qualify for an exemption.

It’s important that everyone knows the fee for not having coverage is increasing this year. If people go without coverage in 2016, the fee you’ll have to pay next year will increase to $695 or 2.5 percent of your income – whichever is higher.

Rita Hatch is an Older Persons Action Group board member and volunteers for OPAG’s Medicare assistance program. Call her in Anchorage at 276-1059 or toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059. Her email address is ritaopag@gci.net.

 
 

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