Technical difficulties plagued the healthcare.gov signup process over the last few days of Open Enrollment. As a result of these problems, CMS, the government body that oversees the Affordable Care Act, has extended the Open Enrollment deadline to February 22nd. Remember, if you don't obtain coverage that begins 3/1/15, you cannot purchase health insurance this year unless you qualify for the Special Election period (have a baby, get a divorce, or have some other qualifying life change event). If you miss out on this last chance, you'll be locked out and won't be able to purchase an ACA plan in 2015. Make sure to grab this last opportunity to buy coverage.
Houston Health Insurance
With only 4 days left in the 2015 Open Enrollment cycle the pace of calls into our offices has increased dramatically. New clients and old friends that have never emailed or called us back suddenly want to talk about health insurance! In order to help you in the final stressful days we wanted to provide you some key pieces of information to help you get your enrollment completed and finish this Open Enrollment marathon!
There are only 18 days left until your opportunity to obtain health insurance is gone for the remainder of 2015. "What? Is that correct?" you say? Yes, the end of Open Enrollment will lock you into a health insurance plan for the rest of the calendar year or lock you out of a qualified health plan until January of 2016.
Recently a fellow health insurance broker and I had a discussion about health insurance premiums and how they are increasing at a rate that will doom the industry in just a few years. We lamented about rising deductibles and ever increasing costs and smaller physician networks. We even ventured into the realm of taxation and how higher income earners will certainly be asked to carry a larger burden in the future. Our howling about how bad things have gotten and how they were better in the old days, ok, just a decade ago, led us to a simple question about the deductibility of health insurance premiums and whether individuals and families could write off their health insurance premiums from their taxes. Since we both had different opinions and we've both been selling health insurance for more than 10 years it is clear that clients need clarification and answers on this important subject. Remember, I'm not a tax preparer or accountant, so these are general rules and you'll need to investigate whether they apply to your situation. Consult your own tax advisor.
The healthcare system is now at a breaking point. The ACA or Affordable Care Act is proving it is now created a situation that is unaffordable. Clients have been pushed into situations where they must make tough decisions as they are now unwilling or unable to make premium payments for plans they feel are too expensive or simply lack enough benefits for the cost. Many clients express what we've discussed for some time now that premiums are more than double what they used to pay and their deductibles are twice as high as well. Finally, because the expense is so high, many are trapped in plans that offer no benefits other than catastrophic coverage at a very high price. The truth is these clients are frustrated and searching for alternatives to their real financial problems. In the last month, Texas Health Design has had conversations about Short Term Health Insurance with more frequency and it is important to describe the benefits, limitations, and potential nasty pitfalls of this approach.
I had several clients and new friends call frantically on the January 1st as they realized that their time to elect a new health plan to replace their terminated Blue Cross plan had passed. While they had almost 45 days to get these tasks completed, it isn't much of a secret that we all wish we could put off dealing with a health insurance search forever. Unfortunately, we now have a new addition to the proverbial saying, "We can't put off death and taxes", we can now make it, "We can't put off death, taxes, or enrollment in an Affordable Care Act plan". If you missed the January first deadline there is still hope.
While many clients and friends have now signed up for coverage for 2015 many more are still dealing with the idea that their Blue Cross or Aetna coverage was terminated and they haven't found replacement coverage. We can help you review the universe of health insurance options and determine which plans would be best for your family. Contact Us today for quotes and analysis.
For years, Texas Health Design has educated clients to ensure that when they need coverage, they know exactly what to expect and what steps to take to ensure that they don't run into problems getting claims paid. We often hear from new clients that their past experiences with health insurance companies have been terrible and we feel strongly that many of their issues result from a lack of understanding of their specific policy and a broader knowledge of "how things work" with insurance. After working with insurance companies for more than a decade, we've seen random, crazy, and illogical denials, but more often, we see issues where clients fail to take simple steps to avoid problems. The goal of this brief post is to ensure that we know basic steps to get the most out of our coverage.
You may have missed the deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage that will begin 1/1/2015, but all is not lost. There still may be an opportunity for you to add coverage in the next few days as there are special circumstances that will permit you to buy coverage if you meet several criteria. We wanted to highlight a few key "secrets" we've seen this year that you need to know that may help you get coverage or at least avoid trouble in 2015.
The deadline to apply for health insurance coverage that will become effective January 1, 2015 is quickly approaching. In order to obtain a plan that begins 1/1/15 you must sign up for an insurance plan by December 15th. As our phone volumes have increased as we rush toward the application deadline we're meeting more clients and shoppers that are unclear how to obtain subsidies and how to apply.
I think all of us fall into the trap of believing that every product or service can be commoditized and packaged into an easy to understand, easy to purchase widget where price is the only consideration. The internet has been wonderful in the sense that we can now easily compare prices and read reviews and buy from the comfort of our living room while watching television and taking a phone call. Unfortunately, we've seen in the last several weeks several instances that have reminded us that easy price searches are not enough and health insurance is not a commodity. Health insurance shoppers need better tools to examine plan choices and must be able to rely on an expert source to answer specific questions that apply to their situation. The reality is that our busy lives don't have room for carving out hours to research health plans on our own or determining whether a doctor is in one network or another. When we do take time to shop for health coverage during this open enrollment period, insurance shoppers want to ensure they get quick responses, comprehensive information, and answers to specific personal questions.