There are a number of changes occurring in 2015 so before you enroll in a new plan or change your existing plan, check out these critical areas:
1. Your state may have lower premiums in 2015
There are now 25% more insurers offering plans for 2015 then in 2014 according to a recent HHS report as insurers are expanding their offerings into new states and new insurers are joining in. This is causing increased competition and suppressing rate increases in some states. Kaiser Permanente, for example, has already announced rates will be cut by 1.4% in California for 2015 and in Maine they’ve dropped 1.1% for all insurer’s plans on average. Rates may also go up for some consumers so everyone — including those that are already enrolled in 2014 — should take another look at their options and consider changing.
If you have insurance now, your doctor, clinic, or hospital may be changing in 2015. Insurers re-evaluate their doctor networks every year and often makes changes will little to no notice to you. This is especially true with plans under the ACA/Obamacare as they typically use narrower networks due to some of the law’s uncertainties. When it’s time to renew your insurance plan or elect a new one, double-check the network and be sure you still have access to your preferred care providers.
3. Your prescription drugs may no longer be covered
Prescription drug coverage falls under the 10 essential benefits provision of the ACA, however, insurer’s contracts with pharmaceutical companies change often so if your preferred drug brand for high-blood pressure, for example, was covered in 2014 it may no longer be covered in 2015. Alternate brands and generics may be available instead, or may need to consider switching plans during open enrollment.
4. Look at plans outside of your state exchange/marketplace Off-marketplace plans might cost less.
State and Federal Marketplaces, such as Healthcare.gov, allow you to receive a subsidy to help lower your monthly premium costs, however if you don’t qualify for one or you only receive a small one, you should consider plans in the private marketplace or short-term insurance.
5. Consider short-term insurance
Short-term insurance are temporary health insurance plan designed for people without health insurance or can’t afford the rates of major medical coverage. Generally rates are far cheaper than Obamacare or major medical coverage, however you can only have short-term insurance for less than 12 months and you’ll have to provide any medical conditions that may increase your rate, unlike with Obamacare. Also, since it’s not considered minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and you’ll have to pay a tax penalty at the end of the year – about 2% of your annual salary in 2015. You can view short-term plans here.
6. Grandfathered plans could need an upgrade.
Many insurance companies are opting to update their health plans this year, so if you’re currently in a unique “grandfathered” plan you’ll lose that status and have to switch to an ACA-compliant plan in 2015.