With the changing political climate, many are wondering whether the Affordable Care Act, typically referred to as Obamacare, will exist in 2018. Health insurance is a critical piece of protection for you and your family, so it can be stressful to find correct information on the future of the Marketplace.

There are more options than Obamacare for your family’s health insurance.

With the number of unknown details over the next year, it’s important to begin searching for a policy that will fit your family’s needs while also saving you money.

Will Obamacare Exist in 2018?

In short, yes. The ACA will continue into 2018, but it does have some changes. Most notably, the open enrollment period has been cut in half.

Open enrollment will begin on November 1, 2017, but it will be only open for 45 days. (Enrollment will end December 15, 2017.) In past years it was open 90 days, so it’s important to note this shortened time frame if you’re looking to enroll.

Depending on your anticipated income for 2018, you may also be eligible for a government subsidy.

This can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket costs for your health insurance coverage, so it’s important to know this information before the enrollment period begins. You want to be ready, since the enrollment is much shorter!

It’s important to note that while premiums are changing over the next year, the subsidies are not.

There Will be Changes in Obamacare

Even though the Marketplace will be open for enrollment, expect to see changes. The biggest change, though, is that the government will likely no longer be subsidizing your deductible and copays. While subsidies are currently available and can decrease your deductible, there may be changes coming.

While every family is different, here is an example of how it used to work: For a family of four with two teenage children and an income of $55,000 a year, the cost would be $647.60 per month. With an Obamacare subsidy, though, you would only be responsible for $266.75 and the government would pay the remaining $381.85 to Blue Cross Blue Shield.
If your subsidy changes so that your ACA payment is too high, then it may be time to rethink your insurance policy and look for other options.

Your Monthly Obamacare Premium Will Increase

In 2018, your monthly premium for an ACA policy will increase once again. In some states, the increase could be as much as 20-40% of your total payment. (As opposed to your subsidized payment.) This additional $100 to $400 a month could be a significant burden on your family’s budget, especially with coming changes to subsidies as discussed above.

In fact, there were increases in 2017, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Over a two year period, premiums increased in Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia by 59%, 81%, and 41%, respectively. This varies by state, of course, but offers a glimpse at why Obamacare isn’t a viable option for many families.

Cost shouldn’t be a prohibitive factor in purchasing health insurance to protect your family. This is why it’s time to look at a different way to purchase health insurance.

The ACA Isn’t Your Only Health Insurance Option

Even with Obamacare’s growth, you can still purchase affordable healthcare elsewhere. While the ACA’s plans offer shrinking benefits and increasing payments, you don’t need to keep that plan. There are a number of private health insurance plans that offer better benefits at a lower cost for you and your family.

Because many ACA plans are bundled, you are often paying for services you don’t need. Instead, when you purchase a plan not through the ACA, you pay for only the benefits you need and want. Because of the limited number of plans available through Obamacare, you will often find more options through a private health insurance provider.

As an insurance agent who has experienced both a decline and rise in income and health in the last decade, I know how important a good deal is. This is why the ACA’s bundle plans are often not an ideal choice. Instead, we can work together to find the best option for you while balancing coverage and cost.

What Creates a Good Health Insurance Policy?

There is a lot of talk about “good health insurance,” but what does that mean? It means focusing on what your family needs protection for. One of the most important decisions regards your deductible. There is the tradeoff between a higher deductible but lower premium, or a lower deductible with a higher premium.

While a higher deductible with a lower premium cost – and therefore a lower initial cost – seems desirable, this can quickly go wrong. Some deductibles can be several thousand dollars, which can be required all at once if you or your child is injured.

One way to protect yourself is to pay a higher premium for a lower deductible. But depending on your needs, I offer alternative plans with zero deductible. These plans help protect you and your family without putting added strain on your finances.

Another important factor of a good health insurance policy is the benefits. The ACA offers bundled plans, which means you may have benefits you don’t need, but you purchase the bundle regardless. When you purchase health insurance privately, you have the opportunity to only purchase services you will need in the future.

This could include maternity care, emergency services, mental health, and more. By choosing to purchase your health insurance privately, you can ensure you will only be paying for the benefits you need.

Health Insurance for the Self-Employed

When self-employed, health insurance can be a stressful topic. The needs of individuals and families vary, but the important things to see is that there are non-ACA plans that will work with your employment status.

If you choose an ACA plan with a subsidy, you will need to talk with your accountant before enrolling. This is because you need to estimate next year’s income as accurately as possible, your accountant can provide valuable insights. In fact, it’s important to have your accountant and insurance agent communicate throughout the enrollment process now so you will experience fewer issues later.

Once you find this number, you can begin finding a health insurance plan that works for you. The ACA also offers a small business marketplace, which you can use if you’re considered an employer. (You meet this requirement if you distribute W-2s to your workers. If you distribute 1099s, they are considered independent contractors, not employees.)

However, the marketplace isn’t the only place to purchase insurance if you have employees. Depending on your needs and income, the best option can be to purchase from a private insurance company.

This way, you can purchase only the benefits you need while also offering benefits to your employees.

Health insurance can be confusing, and the ACA will continue to go through changes in 2018. Do you have enough protection, or are you paying too much? Let’s discuss ways to decrease your premiums without losing the coverage your family needs. Give me a call at (770) 527-5598 or email me for more information.