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- Some real estate agents may work for large firms that provide employer-sponsored health insurance.
- Many agents are private contractors and have to seek health insurance on their own.
- Some professional organizations may offer health insurance options.
- Individuals can find health insurance through the Marketplace.
If you’re a real estate agent, you’re likely affiliated with a large agency. That agency may or may not provide you with health insurance options. If your agency affiliation does not qualify you for an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, you can still obtain coverage in other ways. You may be able to work through your professional association to find a plan that’s ideal for you, and you can also apply for insurance through the Marketplace.
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Is health insurance required?
The Affordable Care Act requires that individuals in the US to be covered under a health insurance plan. Health insurance plans must provide coverage for these 10 essential services:
- Emergency care
- Services associated with hospitalization
- Ambulatory patient care
- Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
- Mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services
- Prescription drug coverage
- Rehabilitative services
- Lab work
- Preventive care
- Pediatric care (Including oral and vision care)
Dental insurance is not a part of these essential benefits, but some plans may include that add-on option.
It’s important to remember that plans can vary quite a bit in terms of coverage and pricing structure. The above services are only the very basic ones that a plan must include. If you’d like to find something more comprehensive, you can shop around to find more appropriate coverage that meets your needs.
What is the penalty?
If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll face a financial penalty. The penalty, or fine, that you’ll be responsible for is due when you file your tax returns. It will be either:
- 2.5 percent of your household income (up to a maximum that equals the average price of the basic Marketplace plan)
You’ll have to pay whichever amount is higher. If you don’t pay this fee, you won’t be eligible for any future tax returns.
You might qualify for an exemption if you fall below a certain income threshold, have faced a hardship in the given year, or if someone in your household passed away during the year.
Some real estate agents have limited options because their agencies do not provide health insurance and they can’t or do not want to look for insurance through a professional organization. In this case, they can buy insurance independently either directly from an insurance company or through the Marketplace.
Sometimes, it can be expensive to buy directly from an insurance company, and that’s why many private contractors and self-employed workers choose to pursue coverage through the Marketplace.
You can either apply online, by phone, or through the mail by submitting a paper application. There may be people in your community, like at a community health center or at an insurance company, who can assist with your application.
Types of Marketplace Plans
There are generally four levels of insurance available through the Marketplace.
- The Bronze plan has higher copayments, higher deductibles, and lower premiums.
- The Silver plan has relatively higher deductibles, relatively higher copayments, and relatively low premiums.
- The Gold plan has lower copayments, lower deductibles, and higher premiums.
- The Platinum plan has much lower copayments, lower deductibles, and relatively higher premiums.
Based on your income, you may be able to get assistance with your premiums through a premium tax credit. If you have a Silver plan, you may be eligible for additional cost-sharing reductions.
For Younger Real Estate Agents
If you’re under 30, you may qualify for a catastrophic plan, which will have very high deductibles in exchange for low premiums. These plans offer the basic essential health benefits and cover three primary care visits per year. Individuals who have a hardship exemption may also be able to qualify for one of these plans.
If you’re under 26, you can get health insurance coverage through your parents. This is true even if you can afford a plan on your own, are married, are a parent, live independently, and/or are offered health insurance by your employer.
When is open enrollment?
You can only enroll in health insurance plans at certain times of the year. For the Marketplace, this is generally from November through January, and your health insurance will be active during the upcoming year.
You may be able to apply during a special enrollment period if you lost your coverage, got married, had a baby, or moved to a new region. You have 60 days from the time that the event occurred to apply for coverage.
An employer-sponsored plan will have its own open enrollment period, but that is usually at the end of the year as well. If you are eligible for insurance through your employer, you should be able to get coverage once you officially start working.
Making the right decision
Real estate agents, as independent workers, may have to shop around to find a plan that works with their budget and is practical given their predicted health care needs. If people do not get coverage through their employer, they may be able to find options through a professional network. They can also search through the Marketplace to find a plan.
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