How is Open Enrollment Different This Year?
Open enrollment this year, let’s all say it, is a hot mess. This time of year is always stressful for insurance companies, trying to get plans, premiums, and benefits set for consumption. For individuals searching the marketplace, there is a lot of work that goes into finding the right plan for you and going through the enrollment process. This, for most, can cause a lot of stress. On top of the regular anxiety of open enrollment, this year there is a lot of added chaos by the Trump administration and current federal government.
The efforts by President Trump and Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, has left insurers with uncertainty for 2018. There are three major issues, followed by many other cause & effects, this has brought upon open enrollment for 2018.
The first big change from last year’s open enrollment is the time frame in which you can purchase health insurance. The past few years, individuals had a 90-day window for open enrollment. This year, that has been chopped in half- yes, you read that correctly, in half. Consumers now have from November 1- December 15, just 45 days, to dig through health plans, make a decision and apply for enrollment. Some states made the choice to extend open enrollment period. As of October 31, those states are:
- California: Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
- Colorado: Nov. 1 to Jan. 12
- Connecticut: Nov. 1 to Dec 22
- D.C.: Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
- Massachusetts: Nov. 1 to Jan. 23
- Minnesota: Nov. 1 to Jan. 14
- New York: Nov. 1- Jan 31
- Rhode Island: Nov 1- Dec 31
- Washington: Nov. 1 to Jan. 15
Part of the ACA requires insurers to provide subsidies to low-income individuals to relieve some of their health care costs. The federal government reimburses the insurance companies for accommodating these low-income individuals. However, the federal government has now announced they will no longer be reimbursing the insurance companies. This has caused insurance companies to find another way to offset the money they will no longer receive for still providing subsidies.
For the consumer, this means higher premium prices for Marketplace health plans. The Department of Health & Human Services found the premiums for Silver plans (the most frequently purchased plan) increased by 37% from 2017 plans.
With all this ambiguity, caused by the current federal administration, surrounding health care it has caused insurance companies to slack on setting their prices and plan benefits set for purchase. The limited time frame of open enrollment will be ticking away and customers will be left without confirmed plans to compare. Some insurers have even pulled out of the Marketplace completely. Those who are currently enrolled in a plan and choose to not research a new plan or the possible changes to their current plan could face some unpleasant surprises as well. If your plan is no longer offered for 2018, you will automatically be enrolled in a “similar” plan. If your plan is still available, you could get hit with an unexpected premium increase or benefits decrease.
There are many changes and still some foggy areas surrounding healthcare for 2018, which makes open enrollment this year feel hard to navigate. Doing the research, being informed, and using resources, like JOANY, can save you from unanticipated costs caused by the unstable healthcare Marketplace for 2018.
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- United States, Department of Health and Human Services. HEALTH PLAN CHOICE AND PREMIUMS IN THE 2018 FEDERAL HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE (pp. 1-40).