We're right on the cusp of the 2016 Open Enrollment Period that begins November 1st and we've received hundreds of calls from clients that found shocking news from Blue Cross, Humana, and even United Health stating that their plans are being terminated and they are being moved to an HMO plan! While many of us are in disbelief, the truth is that all carriers in the Houston market and many other Texas markets won't have an available PPO plan offered by the major carriers. In the vacuum left by these terminating PPO plans we'll need to examine the HMO network plan design. While this process can be hard to understand, don't worry, we're here to assist you through this search.
I Just Bought A Plan I Could Afford!
I have had several conversations in the last few weeks with clients of other agents or purchasers of health insurance plans that dealt directly with the carrier that needed help. In each instance the person lamented that they purchased a health plan based on the price and they didn't take much time to consider other important items in the plan like physician networks, deductibles, or co-pays.
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.
Call volumes are increasing as we get to the last few days of the 2015 Open Enrollment season. I wanted to provide a few answers to questions we are receiving and wanted to put them in one post. Can you believe that January is already in the rear view mirror? We've had several great calls this week and all of them have common themes. I spoke quite a bit about taxation and the impact changes of income will have on subsidies in last week's post. If you have questions about these items, please refer to Taxing Questions for 2015. Let's dive in!
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.
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.