We are fast approaching November 1, which means we are about to enter the annual Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for 2019 health insurance coverage. Open enrollment is the only time of the year that you can enroll in health insurance unless you have a qualifying event that opens up a special enrollment period (like have a child, for example).
This year’s OEP runs from November 1 through December 15, so now is the time to get informed about what changes you can expect to your health insurance premiums in 2019 and to get a better understanding of why those changes are occurring.
What Healthcare Changes Are Expected In 2019?
Health insurance premiums in the individual marketplace are expected to increase in 2019. This is true across the board amongst insurers. No matter where you live, you will likely face a modest rate increase on your health insurance coverage in 2019.
How much health insurer premiums are set to increase will vary by location and individual insurance carriers.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the premiums will increase by nearly 15 percent in 2019.
The Associated Press predicts that premiums will increase by just 3.6 percent in 2019.
But the Department of Health and Human Services says that premiums will decrease by 1.5 percent in 2019.
A combination of factors are working together to drive increases to health insurance premiums in the individual marketplace in 2019. Where premiums have been reduced, some carriers indicated that the reduction would have been much more favorable absent laws and regulations that have been passed or repealed.
You cannot determine the exact cost of your 2019 health insurance premium until soon before the Open Enrollment Period begins, but you can prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Underlying Health Conditions Drive Prices: Those who are sick and need significant amounts of care or who have substantial prescription drug costs are risky for health insurers. As plan members, they use a great deal of care. The number of people in these categories continues to grow, and as a result, health insurance premiums continue to rise to compensate for the exposure that sick individuals create. This is not a new phenomenon for 2019, but it continues to be a contributing factor to the rise in cost of health insurance premiums.
Shifting Risk Pools Lead to Changing Health Insurance Premiums: Short-term health insurance plans will be more widely available in 2019. There will be fewer restrictions on how long you can keep a short-term plan. Those who have such a health plan will also no longer face a tax penalty for not having minimum essential coverage.
These plans are expected to appeal to a younger, healthier audience. When evaluating risk, health insurers have expressed concern over the fact that the risk pools currently in place will shift. If younger, healthier people opt out of health insurance coverage, the risk to the insurer grows.
Association health plans are also expected to become significantly more popular in 2019. As more disparate groups are able to form, insurers will be forced to insulate themselves from increased exposure by raising the cost of healthcare coverage for individuals.
Repeal of Obamacare’s Individual Mandate
Included amongst the provisions on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in 2017, was a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual healthcare coverage mandate. Under the Affordable Care Act, the majority of Americans were required to have health insurance coverage or face a penalty at tax time. Only those with a qualifying hardship were exempt from this provision.
In 2019, when the individual mandate that mandate is no longer be in effect, you will have more options for coverage because you will no longer face a tax penalty if you have less than minimal essential healthcare coverage.
Get Prepared for Open Enrollment 2019
The bottom line is that you should expect to see rate increases in for your health insurance premiums in 2019. Unfortunately, you will be hard-pressed to get around that. In some cases the increased costs will be significant.
The best way to familiarize yourself with the health coverage market ahead of the upcoming OEP is to consider your family situation, then research the plans available in your area. Your budget has just as much impact on your choices as your health situation.
Health insurers generally publish their final rates for consumers on websites like HealthCare.com about 1 week before the Open Enrollment Period begins. Use HealthCare.com’s coverage tool in late October to get a head start on open enrollment.
Get educated now so that you eliminate surprises and have time to select the best healthcare coverage for yourself and your family during the 2019 Open Enrollment Period.
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