Managing potential changes to your Affordable Care Act health plan

 

The Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare) was created in the hopes of – as the name suggests – making health care affordable. It’s been a bumpy road by all accounts, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has at the very least greatly increased the number of Americans with health insurance – by as many as 20 million in some estimates.

The new enrollment period for ACA plans begins on November 1, and there are some serious concerns about rising costs and decreasing options. Essentially, the issues stem primarily from a number of larger insurers pulling previously offered plans out of the ACA marketplace. The effect is that there are fewer plans available in many places, with costs in general rising as much as 25 percent over 2016 prices. Additionally, the penalty for not enrolling in a health care plan for 2017 will be approximately $700 per person.

Keeping costs in check

Fortunately, there are a few factors in play that may help mitigate these increases. First, it’s believed that approximately 85 percent of those purchasing insurance through the HealthCare.gov marketplace are eligible for tax credits and additional aid. The ACA is designed so that tax credits for qualified families and individuals will increase to match any increase in premiums. Be sure to update your application (rather than simply auto-enroll) to make sure you’re getting your full benefits.

Secondly, available plans are very specific to where you live, so be sure to shop around. In some areas, premiums are on the rise this year. In other states, premiums are actually decreasing. There are, in most areas, many, many plans available, so it’s important to understand what each plan means and how selecting that plan might affect you (including the possibility that your current doctor may not participate with the plan).

Specially trained counselors and advisers are available across the country, all for free, to help you pick the plan that best suits your needs. You can use the “Local Help” section of HealthCare.gov to put yourself in contact with an expert in your local community.

It takes a little time and more than a little effort, but if you want to keep your ACA health insurance premiums from getting out of control, take the time to research your options and find a plan that fits your needs and your budget.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI. All typos are a stylistic choice, honest.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.