As nearly all familiar insurers leave the Individual Health Insurance Market, the impact on consumers is devastating and confusing.
According to a recent Bloomberg article, at least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose coverage due to top insurance companies such as Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and other state-specific carriers declining to offer 2017 health plans.
Our agency has received numerous phone calls daily from clients anxious to secure coverage for 2017, since carriers have started mailing notices of termination this October. While we do know which carriers are leaving the Marketplace, we have yet to receive confirmation of Health Plan availability and rates for 2017.
This information will not be released until the annual Open Enrollment Period commences on November 1, 2016.
Not only customers of the Obamacare Exchanges are being affected, but individuals who purchased policies directly with plans like Aetna and UnitedHealthcare will not be able to renew the same policy, nor choose a different product from the same carrier next year.
ACA Plans & Networks Dissolve in 2017
The revamped health insurance system has been a sore topic for many Americans. With hopes for policy changes on the eve of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, most Americans utilizing the ACA ask for complete removal of the law or at least a significant pivot.
And while insurers dropping insureds and severing provider contracts does not guarantee elimination of the ACA, the minimal 2017 health plan menu is sure to [further] disappoint consumers.
Premium rates climb each year upon renewal, yet this year we expect to see even more dramatic premium hikes in addition to shrinking provider selection.
Doctors and medical facilities have also grown tired of poor reimbursement from both on and off exchange health plans. Consequently, individuals and families can expect to choose from a small number of costly policies with very limited networks this Enrollment Season.
Limited options and unfavorable pricing are also likely to reduce Obamacare numbers this year.
As of March 2016, the ACA insured 11.1 million Americans. Since the first Open Enrollment Period in 2013-14, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has touted the law’s impact on the uninsured population.
In 2017, Standard & Poor Global Ratings project variable enrollment numbers, ranging from an 8 percent decrease in enrollment to a 4 percent gain. From our agency’s experience, ACA customers are as exhausted by the frustrating new system as most civilians are with the 2016 election.
Short Term Medical: Lower Premiums, Faster Approval
In this dismal landscape for healthcare and politics, a viable and affordable option for Individual Health Insurance is actually available apart from the Obamacare law.
While Obamacare abolishes the unfair biases of the medical underwriting process, many individuals are looking to underwritten, short term health plans as a cheaper solution to their lack of options. They take the risk of being declined for their medical history and current health status.
Temporary policies are often a fraction of the cost of their long-term counterparts, and their networks are larger, and more portable. Most ACA plans have limited members to an HMO or EPO network. The majority of Short Term plans contract with PPO networks, and even offer copays for office visits depending on the policy.
Any gaps in the plan can be filled with an add-on coverage such as Accident Insurance or Emergency Care coverage, or a low-cost prescription discount plan. Bundling the short-term with ancillary policies sounds complex, yet the sum total is still a fraction of an ACA policy.
Leaving so soon?
Marketplaces for low-cost health coverage are still in their infancy, and appear as though they may never mature.
The Bloomberg poll included data from officials contacted in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Their projection of 1.4 million insured individuals being dropped includes 32 states and only plans sold on the Health Insurance Marketplaces, or “exchanges”.
In Arizona, Georgia, Missouri and Texas, insurers have exited the marketplace, yet regulators would not confirm the number of individuals affected. Three states didn’t provide sufficient data. D.C and eleven states stated that they were not impacted.
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