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Don't Wait for Obamacare Changes to Kick In

Coverage could change in 2014, so know how to act in 2013. If you have the option to undergo surgery or some other costly medical procedure today or in 2014, what should you do? A simple way to help with that decision is to look at your current deductible and compare it with what your deductible might be next year.

"Load up" on a health savings account. McLean says that if you don't have a health savings account, it might be a good year to grab one. "A health savings account is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to U.S. taxpayers enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans," she explains. "If deductibles go up and you have an HSA, you'll have more money to pay those out-of-pocket costs and receive a tax break."

Plan for subsidy help in '14. If you're buying new health care insurance this year or there is a chance you'll lose your current policy next year when Obamacare kicks in, check to see if you're eligible for financial help from the federal government. "The federal subsidies are available to individuals and families earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level" or about $45,000 a year for one person, or $85,000 for a family of four in 2012 dollars, McLean says. "Depending on your income, the subsidies will make sure you pay no more than 3% to 9.5% of your annual income on health insurance premiums."

McLean says that getting complacent about your health care ahead of 2014 may be understandable -- but it certainly isn't helpful.

"It's easy to get distracted by the big changes coming in 2014, but you can't afford to do 2013 on auto pilot," she offers. "When you go without health insurance, even for a year, you leave yourself open to dangerous financial liabilities. A single serious illness or hospitalization could destroy your financial well-being. And even if you're currently insured, now is the time to educate and prepare yourself for how your coverage options may change in 2014. What if your employer stops offering coverage? Will you be eligible for subsidy assistance to purchase coverage on your own? Those are the sorts of questions you need to answer in 2013."