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.