2018 Open Enrollment: 10 things you can do to improve your health insurance

The 2018 Open Enrollment period starts on November 1 and runs through December 15, 2017. If you have diabetes, health care insurance is critical, so it’s important to be familiar with healthcare law and any changes for 2018.

Yesterday, guest blogger Tony Steuer discussed some of the most significant changes in healthcare that you need to know before enrolling in a healthcare plan. Today, Tony lists down some steps you can take to make sure you are covered, and to advocate for better coverage for everyone:

 

1. Start early and enroll as soon as possible

Given the shortened enrollment period and the planned outages, if you wait until the last minute, you may have a hard time completing the online enrollment if healthcare.gov becomes overloaded. It is extremely unlikely that anything will be done to help on this issue.

 

2. Be Aware

If you have group health insurance through your employer, be aware of your open enrollment period and options.

 

3. Review your options

  • Find out if you qualify for the APTC here.
  • If you are getting a subsidy, it is recommended that you review alternatives on healthcare.gov or your state health insurance exchange.
  • Review the total costs: premiums, deductible and estimate co-payments and coinsurance.
  • Make sure that the plan covers your medical providers and medications.
  • Use the optimal insurance deductible calculator to find the deductible that provides the most value to you (click here).

 

4. Take advantage of available resources

Here are some resources to help you with open enrollment:

  • healthcare.gov – check it out now before open enrollment to review your options, so you can be prepared.
  • State insurance departments. Find a link your state insurance department here.
  • Private groups, consumer advocacy groups and insurance companies. For example, a new campaign “Get America Covered” is going to run digital advertising and will partner with employers, community organizations and other entities. Its staff and co-chairs draw heavily from people who worked on ACA enrollment in the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Department. And it draws on a mix of health-policy wonks, celebrities, and political figures: Democratic activist Van Jones; actress Alyssa Milano; actor Bradley Whitford; ousted health insurance CEO Mario Molina; and former Obama health care official Andy Slavitt. Other advocacy groups include Out2Enroll, Young Invincibles, Community Catalyst and the Get Covered Coalition. Unfortunately, HHS is the only entity that has access to records of who’s insured. Unfortunately, the lack of data will lessen the impact.
  • PolicyGenius has put together the comprehensive “Your state-by-state guide to the 2018 health insurance open enrollment period”.

 

5. Spread the word

Spread the word to family, friends and anyone you know about open enrollment and these changes. Visit getamericacovered.com to get enrollment information for you, your family and your friends. You’ll also find tools to start or join an open enrollment team and key facts & graphics to share on Twitter and Facebook.

 

6. Speak up

Continue to speak up. Contact your congress person and ask them to support bi-partisan legislation to make cost-sharing subsidy payments. Congress can appropriate the funds immediately to pay the CSR’s. The continuation of CSR’s is supported by the National Association of Insurance Commissions, most state governors, the health insurance industry, medical professional trade groups, consumer advocacy groups and almost every other stakeholder.

 

7. Support the petition “Fair Health Insurance for All”

Please sign your name if you agree that, now more than ever, we must move the senate to introduce a “Fair Health Insurance For All“.

 

8. Sue the White House

If your state is not one of the 18 states (and counting, along with the District of Columbia) whose Attorneys general is not yet suing the Trump administration to make the payments, contact state officials to encourage your state’s AG to sue the administration. The AG’s are asking courts to declare that the subsidy payments are legal. They are seeking an injunction that would keep the payments going while the lawsuits regarding the constitutionality of the CSR”s are settled.

 

9. Call Trump out

Specifically discuss what Trump is doing. This is Trump’s to own! And according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll – October 2017: Open Enrollment and the ACA Marketplaces, 71% of Americans think that Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the ACA work while more Americans (40%) feel that he’s generally “hurting” the ACA marketplace than helping it (19%). And the New York Times is Tracking the Ways Trump Is Scaling Back Obamacare. Here Are 12.

 

10. Stay informed

The best outcome is that this might finally spur a true bi-partisan effort.  Trump’s actions can be remedied by Congress acting to guarantee funding the cost-sharing subsidies. A bi-partisan deal, the “Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act” has been reached by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. However, President Trump has repeatedly switched from supporting it, to not supporting it.

The other question is whether Senate Speaker McConnell will do the right thing and put this up for a Senate vote. Speculation is that he won’t let the Senate vote. Currently the bill has 22 additional co-sponsors (11 Republicans & 11 Democrats), so it seems feasible that it could actually pass the Senate.  Then the question becomes getting the bill through the House where Speaker Ryan has come out against it and may not let it be put to a vote. House members have already approved an Affordable Care Act change bill, H.R. 1628, that would continue funding for the cost-sharing reduction subsidy program for two years.

Another likely scenario is that upcoming budget talks would create an opportunity so that Obamacare fix could end up in a year-end package.  Either way, this would not remedy any cost sharing subsidies not paid and may come too late for insurance companies to change their 2018 premiums.

 

So, please start early and be prepared. As you should always do with any type of insurance, it’s important to understand what your health insurance options are and obtain coverage accordingly. To get the best plan at the optimal price, shop and compare the different tiers.

health insurance coverage open enrollment 2018

About Tony: Tony Steuer, has been an author, consultant, subject matter expert and consumer advocate in the insurance industry for 30 years. He is the author of A Health Insurance Roadmap and the Change.org petition Fair Health Insurance for All

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