Health Insurance Changes that are expected in the Year Ahead

People shopping for health insurance are often seen overwhelmed due to a lot of reasons. However, the biggest cause of confusion among the people is due to the fact that things are always changing in the health insurance sector. With new healthcare regulations, prices, and insurance companies joining the healthcare sector, the more changes are expected in the health insurance sector. However, to help people out in the health insurance shopping, a number of health insurance portals are there that help and assist people in finding a health plan that will serve their needs.

The following changes have been recently made in the health insurance sector:

Short-term health plans are still accessible

Earlier the short-term health plans were offered for up to three months but last year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that short-term plans can now be available for up to 12 months with the option of renewing for up to three years. Short-term plans typically don’t cover benefits like maternity care or mental health, and these plans were primarily launched for people to fill their unexpected coverage gaps. Unexpected coverage gaps can occur due to the sudden loss of a job or when people are in between jobs. To fill these unexpected coverage gaps people might want to have some extra financial protection until they could enroll in a new health plan. The short-tern health plans are less expensive compared to ACA-compliant plans because these plans don’t cover basic benefits and these plans do not provide coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions. Some of the states don’t allow health insurers to sell short term plans.

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Change in the Premium Prices

For the last several years, health insurance premiums, which is the fixed amount that people pay every month for their health plan, change every year and the coming year will be no exception. However, the good news is that the health insurance market seems to be stabilizing, and only a slight increase in the premium prices are expected on average in most of the states. Some of the states have also predicted a decrease in the premium price in the coming year. Thus, this means that people don’t need to stick with a super expensive health plan in the coming year. People can avoid the premium increase by simply switching to a cheaper plan in their metal tier. Since subsidies also increase with premiums, so there is a good chance that people will not see much increase in their monthly payment, even if their plan’s premium significantly increases.

No Tax Penalty for not having Health Insurance

Last year, federal legislation has eliminated the tax penalty, which means that people will not owe a fine if they don’t buy health insurance in the next year. However, this doesn’t mean that people should drop the idea of having health insurance just because they won’t be fined at tax time. Health insurance providers generally rely upon healthy customers who don’t need much medical care to cover the sicker customers’ medical bills. However, with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, people with pre-existing health conditions would no longer be denied health coverage, and hence more people are likely to buy health plans. Therefore to balance things, the ACA tried to incentivize healthy people to enroll in a health plan by introducing a fine if they remain uninsured for longer than three months. Albeit, this penalty was eliminated last year, and now people don’t have to pay any penalty for not having health insurance. Except for the people living in California, others will not be penalized by the government on not having a health insurance plan. Though, people should remember that unexpected medical bills can prove expensive. Thus, finding a quality and affordable health plan is the best way for people to protect health as well as their wallet.

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New Health Insurers are joining the Market

Last year it was seen that some health insurance companies pulled out from the health insurance market in some of the states, thereby leaving people with fewer choices. It further leads to confusion, frustration, and premium increases. Fortunately, this year no health insurers are expected to withdraw from states they are serving, and in fact, many health insurers are starting to offer health plans in some of the States. Therefore, people who will be shopping for health insurance for the next year is expected to see more health plan options compared to last year, especially if they qualify for a subsidized plan.

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