Fact Checking Health Care: “It’s complicated,” but it can be simplified
So many numbers and so much noise are going around about the Obamacare increases coming for 2017, it’s vital to do some objective fact checking. It is true that health insurance premium rates through the Marketplaces across the nation are increasing. It is true that the increases vary widely depending on the state you live in and what plans are available in the specific area where you live. But what individuals and families who need to shop for health insurance this year really want to know is, “how will this affect me?” And, for any particular person, the verdict is: “It’s complicated.”
Open enrollment just began November 1, and you need to enroll by December 15 for your coverage to start January 1, 2017. Let’s take a closer look at what you might expect under Covered California. Premiums are increasing 13.2 percent in California on a weighted average. However, the premium rates you will actually pay for health insurance in 2017 will depend on a number of factors that are as individual as the data on your driver’s license.
The part of California you live in will determine the health plan options available for purchase. Competition among health plans in the state has helped to keep the increases more moderate than in many other parts of the country. More than 92 percent of consumers will have three or more plan choices for 2017, and the rest will have at least two to pick from.
Your age will affect your premiums, with the price going up as you get older. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) limits premiums for the oldest participants to no more than three times the rate for a 21 year old person. Some of the plan options and coverage levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) are better suited to young people while others deliver more for older participants. So, look carefully at your needs and the benefits offered, as well as the medical providers available under the plan.
One of the most important factors in figuring out how much that monthly health insurance bill will be is your household income. This number determines your eligibility to reduce your health insurance premiums with federal subsidies. Covered California provides tools to assist you to determine whether you are eligible for subsidized coverage and how much financial help you can receive. About 90 percent of Covered California health insurance purchasers receive some level of federal cost assistance which pays 77 percent of those total premiums.
As we said earlier, it’s complicated. Fortunately, there is helpful information available online from reliable sources like Covered California and the California Department of Health Care Services. Many health insurance shoppers simplify their search for coverage by getting unbiased, professional, and FREE help from a Covered California Certified Insurance Agent. For more information, please visit us at www.keenandirect.com or call us at 855-653-3626. Open enrollment runs through January 31, 2017.
About Sam Cole
Sam Cole serves as Vice President of KeenanDirect. He has more than two decades of experience in the California insurance market. He is a Lifetime qualified member of the National Association of Health Underwriter’s (NAHU) Leading Producers Round Table.