Open enrollment for individual health insurance for 2018 is less than 2 weeks away from commencing, as it will begin on November 1. This is the second of a series of blog posts designed to ease confusion during this open-enrollment window.
There is a lot at stake this year, as open enrollment will run from November 1, 2017 until December 15, 2017, just 45 days including weekends and Thanksgiving. This is by far the shortest open enrollment period since the creation of The Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare. With this in mind, we urge you to be prepared to enroll on, or very close to November 1. As you can see, the window is very short this year, and large rate increases are expected for those who have nonsubsidized health insurance. Here is a rundown of the facts as we know them to be at this time:
If you are on an Anthem Grandmothered plan, you may keep that plan for all of 2018. Those renewals are being cycled to January 1st. For those of you who were used to renewing on December 1st, this will result in a 13-month rate guarantee, rather than 12 months. We are strongly urging the few people we have left with those Grandmothered plans to keep them, as they are irreplaceable and better than everything else that is in the market today.
As you may know, Minuteman is leaving the market on December 31, 2017. Those who have Minuteman coverage through the federal exchange will be automatically mapped to the closest plan among the other carriers (Anthem, Harvard or Ambetter). Those who are NOT covered through the exchange will NOT be mapped and coverage will end if no action is taken. We are urging all Minuteman clients to log into our HealthSherpa website to actively, affirmatively choose another plan. Unfortunately, whether you choose a plan with Harvard Pilgrim, Anthem or Ambetter, it is very likely your rate is going to be higher, and for those of you who do not receive a subsidy, much higher. That will be difficult for many of you, because Minuteman was clearly the lowest cost carrier in the market last year.
For those of you who are on Harvard Pilgrim plans with the New Hampshire network, all of those plans have been discontinued for 2018. If you want to stay with Harvard Pilgrim, you will have to move to their ElevateHealth plans, which have a smaller New Hampshire network than the plan you were on in 2017. Harvard Pilgrim will still offer their ElevateHealth Options program, which is the only individual plan in New Hampshire with some access to the major Boston hospitals, but those two plans are very expensive and not available on the exchange, which means they cannot be purchased with subsidy dollars.
Ambetter will be available in 2018. Although they were also available in 2017, they only sold about 100 non-Medicaid plans throughout the state last year, because they did not actively market their plans. This year they will be actively marketing their plans. For those of you who must have Parkland Hospital and Portsmouth Hospital, they will be the ONLY carrier in New Hampshire with those two hospitals in their regular network.
Unfortunately for many of you, if you must have certain hospitals, or must have Boston access, there will likely only be one choice of insurance companies for you this year. To give some perspective, last year there were 49 plans for sale on the exchange across the four companies doing business in New Hampshire. This year there will only be 15 plans for sale across the three carriers we have for sale in New Hampshire. Very little choice, and for some, a Hobson’s choice.
To be prepared for November 1, we would recommend logging into our HealthSherpa website to familiarize yourself with it.
The most important thing to keep in mind about this website is that it can calculate subsidized rates based upon income. To see the actual rates (unsubsidized) for any particular health plan, enter a high income, like $100,000 or more, should you choose to enter one at all. To see subsidized rates, make sure to enter with near-accuracy your expected income for 2018, or the rates you receive may be inaccurate.
Maureen Reardon and I will do our best to answer questions and be a support during this compressed open enrollment window.