2019 Open Enrollment is almost here and many clients and friends are getting notices that their plans are changing or their premiums are increasing. On November 1st, 2018 we'll be able to get a view of the universe of health options we'll have for 2019. While many clients will stay with their current plan, they will certainly see an increase in premiums and also in their deductibles or out of pocket maximums again. The annual bump in costs and reductions in benefits are now the norm for most people and we are constantly scouring the landscape for new options.
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.
In a world where you are told that procrastination is terrible and there are bad life consequences for missing deadlines, CMS, our government health administrator, has decreed that folks that waited past the deadline to purchase health insurance for 2015 will get one more shot at signing up!
I wanted to highlight several key developments this week as clients and new friends are finding that they haven't fully understood the implications of the financial subsidies they received from the Marketplace and Obamacare. Over the last few days we've heard from clients that have received 1095-A Forms which show how much they received in subsidies from the US Government and they are now wonder what they need to do with their forms and what they mean.
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.
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.
We've hit January and the time has come for many of us to turn our attention to a subject we often dread, taxes. This tax season many of us will face new filing requirements or even receive new forms in order to remain in good standing with the government. In this post we'll quickly summarize the items you'll need to look and that you'll encounter as we head toward April 15th.
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.