FACING UNCERTAINTY, LIMITED OPTIONS FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE IN 2018
Are you or friends or family faced with losing your individual coverage at the end of the year? Letters have been sent by BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska and by Aetna telling policyholders that their 2017 policies will end on 12/31/17. Approximately 12,500* Blue Cross Blue Shield of NE members will be losing their ACA plans. (BCBS still does plan to keep its Pre-ACA block of business) and another 50,000* people with Aetna will lose their coverage come January 1, 2018.
WHAT OPTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE?
So what options are left and where do you to turn if you are one of these 62,500 people in Nebraska?
- The first choice to consider is keeping an ACA-compliant health insurance plan. This guarantees “full” coverage with no limitations based on pre-existing health conditions. Those who qualify for financial assistance will continue to receive a Premium Tax Credit that reduces your monthly premium. Only Medica has filed with the Nebraska Department of Insurance to offer plans in 2018. This also protects you from the possibility of paying a penalty when you file your taxes.
- Another option is to participate in employee benefit plans that may be offered by your employer or your spouse’s or parent’s employer. A small business that does not currently offer health insurance benefits would be wise to consider it for 2018. Premiums for a group plan may be less than the premiums for individual coverage. This is particularly true for those whose income does not qualify for financial assistance. There are requirements that must be met in determining if the business is eligible to offer a group health insurance plan.
- Short-term health insurance policies provide very basic insurance benefits. This can work well to fill the gaps but there are limitations in the benefits. Short-term plans do not comply with the Affordable Care Act. No benefits are provided for pre-existing health conditions, preventive care, maternity or behavioral health. Those with significant pre-existing health conditions are not eligible for a short-term plan. The policy term is limited to 90 days. You can write successive 90-day policies to provide coverage for a full year. It can be a lower cost option, but beware of the limitations.
- Another option that will appeal to some is a faith-based healthcare expense sharing program. This is not health insurance. It is a program where medical expenses are shared among the people who participate in the program. There are several similar programs offered. Eligibility criteria will include your agreement with principles of faith. The programs have medical guidelines such as limitations of coverage on pre-existing medical conditions, prescriptions, and preventive care. So why would you consider this option? You can save money on monthly expenses for healthcare if you are willing to give up some of the guarantees of health insurance.
*Source: Omaha World Herald 06/02/17 “100,000 Nebraskans could be left with no options if last insurer pulls out of ACA market”