Open enrollment or open confusion? This year’s Obamacare kick-off comes with questions as individuals wonder about what has changed and how it might affect their coverage.
Let’s break it down:
- Enrollees can still sign up on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, or their state marketplaces, but you can now enroll directly through third-party websites too.
- You may still qualify to get subsidies to help lower premiums or reduce deductibles and co-pays
- You can still shop and compare coverage, which is especially important this year
- Some plans will be much more expensive, while others could be less
- There will be less enrollment help available from some non-profit groups, but you may be able to get advice from brokers – shop carefully!
- The sign-up period is much shorter – most states end December 15
Some experts believe that enrollment could fall by 1-2 million individuals due to the confusion about Obamacare this year.
- Silver plans are pricier – Premiums for the silver Obamacare plan will hike up 37%, on average, according to federal documentation.
- Price varies greatly with location – For instance, due to a re-insured plan, the benchmark silver rate will drop 22% in Alaska, but Iowans could see an 88% increase
- Many insurers pushed up the rates of silver plans to make up for President Trump ending federal support of Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies
- Gold plans may be much more affordable to enrollees – They have an average deductible of $1,320, compared to just over $4,000 for a silver policy, according to Health Pocket.com, which means you should choose wisely before selecting a lower-grade option
Many more participants will be able to gain coverage without paying anything. For instance, a 48-year-old man who earns around $30,000/year can find a zero-premium bronze policy in nearly 1,050 counties next year, according to an analysis by Oliver Wyman consulting group.
Quite possibly the biggest change is that enrollees will have only half the time to sign up for 2018 coverage. Open enrollment in most states runs only through December 15.