Most Americans lack awareness of their insurance options as a part of the Affordable Care Act and are unsure whether they would qualify for financial assistance for health insurance, according to a series of focus groups by Intuit TurboTax.
“Consumers who take a more active role in their health care decisions get the best outcome for both their health and their wallet,” says Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist and adviser to the American Tax & Financial Center at TurboTax. “We encourage Americans to be engaged in their health care decisions starting now. Research shows that Americans spend much more time researching the purchase of an automobile compared with seeking information on picking their personal physician. Isn’t it worth investing a few hours over the next few months to get the best health care for you and your family?”
TurboTax states that engaging in health care is particularly important for those who plan to fund health insurance through a government subsidy along with monthly out-of-pocket expenses. For a family of four earning $50,000, it would be eligible for a subsidy of approximately $7,500 in 2014. This is projected to fund about 70 percent of the insurance premium. The rest of the premium would be paid by the family at $282 per month.
“The majority of families need to understand this will likely impact their monthly budget in some way,” Sarasohn-Kahn says. “U.S. consumers need to take on the role of ‘health consumers’ as they assume more responsibilities for choosing health plans based on the level of services covered by a health plan compared to the costs of the premiums and copayments under the different plans being considered.”
Among the 40 percent of estimated families that live paycheck to paycheck, the additional monthly payment could seem out of budget, TurboTax says, but they should consider the benefits of preventive care and costs of emergencies and existing chronic conditions. On average, the cost of a visit to the emergency room was $1,349 in 2010.
Although this new health care provision doesn’t start until October, Americans should start educating themselves on the new regulations now, TurboTax maintains.