Obamacare has taken several hits over the past few years. With the repeal of the national individual mandate and no more reimbursements for cost-sharing subsidies, health insurance companies have struggled to price plans for the Affordable Care Act.
Yet after a rocky year, residents in several states will see new Obamacare companies in 2019 offering health insurance. This is good news if you need to buy an individual plan, as more choices typically lead to lower premiums and better coverage.
For instance, silver plan premiums in Greater Knoxville will likely fall by 35 percent, thanks to carriers such as Bright Health and Ambetter entering the market. Residents of Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga will see similar price drops.
Lower premiums aren’t the only thing you can look forward as health insurers face increasing competition. Many Obamacare plans come with much more than essential health benefits. From telemedicine to rewards programs, insurers are focusing on making healthcare accessible and affordable. Here’s a look at three growing health insurance companies that are doing just that.
Current States: Alabama, Colorado
New State: Tennessee
Minneapolis-based Bright Health got its start in Colorado in 2016 after several insurers announced they would be leaving the state. Led by former UnitedHealth CEO Bob Sheely, the company takes a different approach to care. It partners with an exclusive healthcare provider system in each coverage area it serves. This stabilizes plans costs, improves services, and streamlines the relationship between insurer and provider.
Yet exclusive doesn’t mean small. Brookwood Baptist Health, its Birmingham-based care community, includes the largest primary care network in Alabama, five hospitals, and dozens of specialty centers. Centura Health in Denver connects members to over 5,000 Colorado Health Neighborhoods providers across 600 clinics, 15 hospitals, and 1,600 primary care doctors.
Along with a wide network of providers, these plans give you access to additional benefits such as:
- Bright Health Secure. This limited indemnity benefit policy provides additional coverage to help you save on out-of-pocket expenses if you become ill, have a hospital stay or an accident.
- Bright Rewards. You can earn cash rewards throughout the year for making healthy choices.
Bright Health will also offer Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) in New York and Ohio starting in 2019. The company already offers Advantage plans in Alabama, Arizona, and Colorado.
Ambetter Health (Centene Corporation)
Current States: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Washington
New States: North Carolina, Pennsylvania*, Tennessee
Launched in 2014, Ambetter is Centene Corporation’s brand of Health Insurance Marketplace plans. The St. Louis-based company is the largest provider in the Obamacare market, with 1.5 million members, up from 1.08 million last year. Its Ambetter plans include a range of health and wellness programs such as:
- 24/7 Nurse Advice Line. A registered nurse is on call to address your health-related concerns. Whether you have a follow up question after a doctor’s appointment or are unsure if you need emergency care, Ambetter’s nurse advice line is there to help.
- Care Management Program. If you have complex health needs, a care manager will work with you to manage your condition, coordinate services, and locate community resources.
- Health Management Program. Ambetter works with a disease management company to help you manage conditions such as asthma, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.
- Start Smart for Your Baby®. This program for pregnant women helps ensure mothers and babies are healthy at every stage.
- My Health Pays™ Rewards Program. You can earn rewards toward healthcare costs by completing healthy activities.
Some plans even include optional dental and vision coverage.
(*Centene will offer five HMO plans in Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties through its Pennsylvania Health & Wellness Inc. unit.)
Current States: California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas
New States: Arizona, Florida, Michigan
The brainchild of Mario Schlosser and Josh Kushner, Oscar brands itself as “a new kind of health insurance company.” Founded in 2012, the New York-based insurer plans to revolutionize the healthcare industry through transparent pricing, telemedicine, and technology. It has 240,000 members, with membership growing by 250 percent in 2018 from 2017.
As an Oscar member, you’ll enjoy benefits such as:
- Oscar App. This app helps you find a doctor, see your labs and prescriptions, track your deductible, and even earn money by counting your steps.
- Doctor on Call. Request to speak with a doctor via the Oscar App, and you’ll get a board-certified practitioner on the phone within 15 minutes. It’s free unlimited, and available 24/7.
- Concierge. You get a team of care guides and a nurse to ensure you get the care you need—without waiting on hold for customer service.
- Oscar Center. You’ll gain exclusive access to this full-service primary care practice, along with free classes and events.
In addition to entering markets in Arizona, Florida and Michigan, Oscar will expand its presence in Ohio and Texas in 2019. The company plans to enter the Medicare Advantage market in 2020.
2019 Open Enrollment for New and Continuing Obamacare Plans
The 2019 Open Enrollment Period, during which anyone can sign up for next year’s individual health insurance plans, will run from Thursday, November 1 through December 15, 2018.
You may be eligible for premium tax credits if you buy an Obamacare plan. Use our subsidy calculator to see if you qualify for an insurance discount.
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