The open enrollment period is scheduled to begin on October 1,2013 for the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare.
While no one disputes there are some good parts of the law, like not being able to deny children insurance. Most people will say that the fact that there are no more denials for pre-existing conditions and insurers can no longer charge more for pre-existing conditions is a good thing. By the way I must add the reason we have pre-existing conditions in the first place is because when the government wrote the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), they did not extend it to the individual market. Extending that law might have been an easier fix than the 2700 pages of the PPACA.
Americans seem to be split on the law in general, but it set to go into effect on January 1, 2014. The open enrollment will be done through what will be called an insurance Marketplace. It is a web based system that you can compare plans. Now we are led to believe this is a new system. If you visit my website at www.isellhealth.com and get an insurance quote, this is kind of what the new marketplace will look like. I have had this quote engine for a decade. Either way, if you look at this you will get an idea as to what you will be looking at come October 1. All plans through the marketplace will be uniformed with what are called essential health benefits. These plans will be known as Qualified Health Plans (QHP). If you purchase through the marketplace you may be entitled to what is called a subsidy. You may have the option of having this paid directly to the insurance carrier. If you do not purchase through the marketplace you will not be entitled to subsidies.
What is interesting is each insurance carrier’s strategy moving forward. Some carriers are going to operate in the Insurance Marketplace, and some will only operate outside the Insurance Marketplace. Some will utilize both systems.
Aetna has opted out of many of the Marketplaces, including their home State of Connecticut. Golden Rule has opted out of all of them. Humana has said they are going to be in select marketplaces to start out with. It seems that the Blue Cross Companies (and Anthem) seem to be in the marketplace in all markets. Some states they are the only carrier.
To prepare for the open enrollment season, in Illinois, both Celtic Insurance and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois have stopped taking applications until the open enrollment begins on October 1.
Some companies have offered their clients a chance to change their renewal date, so they can avoid “Obamacare” for one additional year.
Now the question becomes to the consumer, what do you do? If you are currently uninsured due to a medical condition, you will be able to pick a plan that works for you. Of course, it is widely expected that the premiums will be between thirty and eighty percent higher come January 1 than they are now. You may, like I mentioned earlier qualify for a subsidy to offset the cost. If you are currently uninsured by choice, you will have to decide whether you are going to purchase a qualified health plan, or pay the tax at the end of the year.
Should you currently have a plan that you like, you should speak with your insurance broker to see how that plan will be affected and will it still be offered. You might be better off changing carriers, prior to the first of October, or again depending on the carrier, the end of December.
The rest of the year will require a lot of effort on your part to decide what you want to do, your broker can assist you with this choice, but it is not one you should make in one day. Begin your research now. While all of the information (such as rates) might not be available yet, a lot of information is out there and your broker or the insurance carrier should be able to assist you. Please do not wait!!
Thanks for reading.