You need to know 7 things about health insurance for 2018. The first is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, still offers health insurance for people who buy their own. Republicans in Congress tried and failed to do away with the ACA this year, and although Donald Trump has worked to undermine the system, it is still there and ready to use.
That means if your employer does not provide health insurance, you can sign up through the ACA.
However, a few things have changed.
1. The Affordable Care Act still exists and you can buy health insurance through Healthcare.gov, or your state healthcare exchange. Plans cover:
a. Pre-existing conditions
b. Essential health benefits and preventive services
In-patient and out-patient hospital care
Pregnancy care and childbirth
Mental health services
(Some plans cover more)
c. Preventive Services
2. You have less time to make a decision about the type of health plan you want. That’s because the Trump Administration reduced the time period for registration by six weeks. The enrollment period runs from November 1 to December 15, 2017 for the federal exchange. And the Healthcare.gov website will shut down for maintenance every Sunday from midnight until noon, except December 10. The plan you buy before the deadline will begin on January 1, 2018.
3. Automatic re-enrollment kicks in if you have a plan under the ACA and update or review it to make sure it’s still right for you. That’s why it’s important to go back to your exchange and compare plans. You have until December 15, 2017 to do that. You also need to update your income and household information to make sure that you get the savings and the premium tax credit you deserve.
4. If your insurer wrote to tell you it is not offering a plan in your state this year, Healthcare.gov or your state exchange will match you with another insurer.
5. Penalties still exist. If you earn enough to pay federal income tax, you have to have insurance or you will pay a fine at tax time. That fine is 2.5 percent of your income, or $695, whichever is greater.
6. Shop around. Prices went up in large part because President Trump cut subsidies to insurers and they raised premiums to offset their losses. The premiums are higher on silver-level plans in some states. And Kaiser Health News reports that the highest-level gold plans, which cover 80 percent of costs, may have in some cases lower premiums than silver plans. So you really have to pay attention and make sure that you get the best deal.
7. Beware of insurance sold outside of the marketplaces. Apparently, some insurers began selling plans with limited benefits outside of the marketplace. These do not cover everything and may not cover pre-existing conditions. If you buy one of these cheaper plans that offers less you may still have to pay the fine because it doesn’t meet the federal requirements.