By Karen Pallarito
MONDAY, Oct. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) — The Trump administration’s repeated efforts to topple Obamacare have not thwarted the program’s annual enrollment for health insurance.
Starting Wednesday, consumers may renew their coverage or join a completely new plan for 2018, though the ease of enrollment may depend on what state they call home.
This specific year’s open enrollment follows a recent decision by the Trump administration to pull the plug on federal payments to insurers, which were meant to offset the cost of providing health plans featuring reduced cost-sharing requirements for low-income Americans.
“Obamacare can be finished. of which’s dead. of which’s gone. There can be no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” President Donald Trump declared during a Cabinet meeting This specific month.
In reality, Obamacare — or the Affordable Care Act — remains the law of the land.
however with the Trump administration’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cutbacks in public outreach along with also a shortened sign-up period, health insurance analysts along with also consumer advocates expect This specific year’s enrollment period to be particularly challenging.
“The challenge for us This specific year can be going to be breaking through of which confusion along with also complexity, along with also the anxiety of which people are feeling not knowing what their options are going to be, assuming of which This specific can be something of which’s not going to be around much longer, hearing of which the marketplace can be failing,” said Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health.
The task can be made even more difficult in Kentucky, where Republican Gov. Matt Bevin campaigned on a promise to close Kynect, the state health insurance marketplace. In 2016, he did just of which.
Kentuckians who want individual or family coverage can still enroll in a plan through the federally run Healthcare.gov website, however some incorrectly assume the coverage can be gone, Beauregard said.
States of which handle their own health plan enrollment along with also consumer outreach may face fewer obstacles.
completely new York, for one, has preserved funding for advertising along with also in-person enrollment assistance. In addition, the state has elected to extend the open-enrollment period through Jan. 31, 2018.
Donna Frescatore, executive director of the completely new York State of Health, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, said, “Our message to consumers can be of which we’re open for business, of which there’s plan choice in every corner of the state along with also of which, for many, premiums will stay the same or even go down for 2018, so we want them to shop.”
Here’s what consumers seeking health insurance need to know for 2018:
Plan choices. Many consumers will have fewer health plan choices for 2018 because insurer participation has waned amid uncertainty about the program’s future.
According to an Avalere Health analysis, nearly half of all counties will have just one insurer through which to choose.
Current contracts allow health plans to exit the market “in accordance with state along with also federal law,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, a senior vice president with Avalere Health. of which loophole was triggered by the government decision to stop doing payments to insurers for reduced cost-sharing plans, she explained.
While there’s “a tiny possibility” of which a plan could decide to drop out in 2018, Carpenter doesn’t think insurers want to leave people “inside lurch.”
Premiums. More than 80 percent of consumers who buy Obamacare plans receive premium tax credits to help them buy coverage. Those subsidies rise to offset premium increases. of which means most buyers won’t feel the pinch of rising premiums.
however if you’re among the 20 percent who earn too much to qualify for those tax credits, you’ll bear the brunt of premium increases. well-known “silver” level health plans will rise by 34 percent, on average, in 2018, according to Avalere’s analysis of rate filings in Healthcare.gov states.
Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere, said in a statement: “Plans are raising premiums in 2018 to account for market uncertainty along with also the federal government’s failure to pay for cost-sharing reductions.”
A U.S. Department of Health along with also Human Services spokesperson said in a statement of which the department “can be carefully evaluating how we can best serve the American people who continue to be harmed by Obamacare’s failures.”
Of course, rates vary by state, region along with also health plan, so health advocates urge consumers to compare rates.
In completely new York, consumers who receive premium subsidies can expect rates to remain flat or lower than in 2017, Frescatore noted. For higher-income individuals who do not qualify for of which help, the average increase can be 14.5 percent.
Timing. The 2018 open-enrollment period will end weeks earlier than usual. Most consumers must complete the process by Dec. 15, although some state marketplaces have extended their enrollment period.
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
SOURCES: Emily Beauregard, executive director, Kentucky Voices for Health, Louisville; Donna Frescatore, executive director, completely new York State of Health, Albany; Elizabeth Carpenter, senior vice president, Avalere Health, Washington, D.C.; Oct. 25, 2017, news releases, Avalere Health; Oct. 26, 2017, statement, U.S. Department of Health along with also Human Services
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