All You Need To Know About Open Enrollment

Date November 15, 2017

Open enrollment is here again, and for many Americans this time period – and the entire health insurance market – spells confusion.

Read on for the complete rundown on open enrollment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and today’s health insurance options.

1.) The ACA – still in effect?

The ACA is still up and running. While an alternative health care plan has been proposed, there has been no change in the current system thus far.

What does this mean for the average American?

The ACA has made it mandatory for every American to have sufficient health care coverage or risk being fined. It also oversees the government-run marketplace in which insurance plans can only be purchased during open enrollment. In most states, open enrollment for 2017 will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.


2.) Rising premiums or cheaper rates?

Premium rates are definitely climbing. On the flip side, though, the government claims that through its subsidized plans and the expansion of Medicaid, health care costs are steadily declining.

In fact, both arguments are true. The current administration said it will stop paying for many of the key payments to insurers it’s previously shouldered as part of the ACA.

This factor, coupled with the overwhelming uncertainty surrounding the ACA, has led insurers to drastically increase their premiums. Monthly insurance payments are expected to rise by as much as 34-50% in 2018.

The 80% of consumers who receive subsidized insurance through Obamacare will be shielded from these increases; it’s the other 20% who will pay the price.

All this uncertainty has also led many providers to leave the marketplace plans. Be sure to find out if your doctor has left your plan before open enrollment is up.

3.) Available marketplace plans

You’ll find all your insurance options at healthcare.gov. Here’s a quick synopsis of each category of plans available in the ACA marketplace:

  • Bronze: lowest monthly premiums, highest out-of-pocket costs and very high deductibles.
  • Silver: the most popular plans available, silver offers moderate premiums and out-of-pocket costs, with lower deductibles than bronze plans.
  • Gold: high monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.
  • Platinum: the most expensive plans, platinum plans have the highest monthly premiums but the lowest out-of-pocket costs and very low deductibles.

4.) Choosing your plan

When shopping for a plan, don’t base your decision on price alone. Many cheaper plans come with a heavy price. Your primary care provider may not be covered under these plans. You may have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. Lastly, a higher deductible can mean you’ll end up paying for all of your health care needs in 2018 without “cashing in” on your premiums at all.

Shop around for a plan and do lots of research before making your decision.

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