Today marks the first day of open enrollment for healthcare plans available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges as well as the first under a new presidential administration, and this is leading to some changes for people enrolling. While most of it will be familiar to enrollees; they can still visit or their state’s marketplace to compare prices and receive subsidies to lower their premiums, deductibles, and copays, some will see plans that are more expensive and some that are not, in addition to having less help available during a shorter enrollment period that ends December 15 rather than the end of January.
All of this means that fewer people — potentially one to two million fewer people — are expected to enroll for coverage in 2018. According to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, only 40 percent of marketplace enrollees and 15 percent of people who are uninsured are aware that enrollment begins today.
Here are some changes coming to 2018’s open enrollment that you can expect:
  • Silver plan on the exchange will be an average of 37 percent higher than last year depending on where they live. In Alaska for example, the cost of silver plans will decrease by 22 percent but enrollees to a similar plan in Iowa, a state that will see only one insurer on their exchange, can expect to pay as much as 88 percent more than last year. There are many reasons for these rate hikes, from general rising medical costs to insurers increasing their price after President Trump’s announced ending federal support for cost-sharing subsidies.
  • Some enrollees could save money, however. Roughly 80 percent of people enrolling can find a plan for less than $75 a month, up from 71 percent for this year
  • Enrollees can take advantage of expanded bronze plans, which have lower premiums but higher out of pocket costs.
  • will have a “Help on Demand” service, making it easier for enrollees to connect to an insurance agent or broker for assistance in applying for coverage
  • In addition to the shorter enrollment period — almost half the length it has been in the past — enrollees will need to make sure to perform their due diligence in researching a healthcare plan because if they do not actively enroll in a new plan by the 15th, they will automatically be re-enrolled in their current or similar plan.