It is extremely important to be aware that open enrollment is starting for your 2018 health insurance plans on November 1st 2017 AND ENDS ON DECEMBER 15th!!! There are some changes this year that are going to catch people by surprise so please pay attention:
1. There have been severe budget cuts for the informational side of the Affordable Health Care Act, so you are not going to get reminders and guidance as in the past. You need to put the enrollment period on you calendar and make sure you make your selection before December 15th.
2. THIS YEAR THERE IS AN IRREVERSIBLE AUTO ENROLLMENT TRAP IF YOU DON'T PAY ATTENTION: Unlike past years, there is no grace period after December 15th for those struggling with being automatically enrolled for another year by their current health insurance plan. THIS IS A TRAP THAT IS GOING TO CATCH A LOT OF PEOPLE BY SURPRISE.
If you don't elect the plan you want by December 15th your current insurance plan, which you elected for 2017, will AUTOMATICALLY ENROLL YOU IN THEIR 2018 PLAN WHICH IS THE CLOSEST EQUIVALENT OF YOUR CURRENT PLAN. But the 2018 plan may have significant changes and a higher premium cost. YOU WILL BE STUCK IN THE AUTOMATIC PLAN YOU ARE ASSIGNED TO AFTER DECEMBER 15th (unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, see below.)
3. To get the premium subsidy/tax credit as in prior years you must pick a plan listed on Healthcare.gov. Some insurance carriers have pulled out of the market place so there may be less selection. Remaining carriers have eliminated many of the "silver" plans. There may also be longer waits to talk to live operators that can help you due to budget cuts. THIS IS GOING TO BE A MESS - GET STARTED EARLY!
4. For those of you who miss the deadline to enroll or get enrolled automatically in a plan you don't like, your last hope is to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Life changes can qualify you for a special enrollment period including but not limited to: having a baby, job loss, getting married, getting divorced, moving, a change in your dependents, a death in the family, a change in income, loss of your current health care coverage, etc.
5. There are still free insurance advisors that can help you select the right coverage plan for you and your dependents. Due to reduced funding for these counseling programs the advisors now rely on payments they get from the medical insurance carriers when the process your enrollment. These advisors will generally represent a variety of plans with different carriers so they can give you an unbiased recommendation. It costs you nothing and will save you a ton of time to consult with a health insurance advisor.
6. Yes the monthly premiums for most plans will have increased significantly, but as currently written the Affordable Care Act allows an increased subsidy each year as well. This is good news for subscribers to plans with a subsidy and bad news for Congress that has to come up with more and more money to fund the tax subsidies.
7. As much as I love the Affordable Care Act and what it has done to lower net premium costs and to lower barriers to health care, such as abolishing the exclusion of coverage for pre-existing conditions or life time insurance coverage caps, Something will have to be done to stop or prevent the spiraling cost of health insurance, but something that makes a fair system which does not discriminate between old and young, health and sick.
8. From personal experience I can recommend this health insurance advisor: Jennifer Allain, Independent Medicare and Health Insurance Broker 11501 SW Pacific HighwaySuite 201Portland, Oregon 97223 Phone: (503) 307-4811
She is not the only insurance advisor in the Portland area but she is the one I have used and I have referred clients to with great success. If you have used another advisor that you wish to recommend please submit their name and contact information to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will add their information here.