Health Insurance HQ distills the current political activity around health care into a brief, monthly educational update to help you become a more active consumer and citizen. Our experts in the field and others in our community are here to provide you with plenty of handy resources to help you use your voice and your vote to make a difference.
As summer draws to a close and we look forward to the next Open Enrollment period, we wanted to remind everyone that despite all the attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), everything is still the same! Open enrollment still begins November 1. There's still a penalty if you don't enroll in health insurance. Premium assistance and cost sharing reductions (CSRs) are all still in effect just as they have been in years past.
What should you look out for?
- Pay attention to the open enrollment period in your state! Open enrollment begins November 1 across the country and has been shortened to end on December 15 in most states. Notable exceptions being California and Massachusetts extending the deadline until January 31, 2018 and Washington State extending to January 15, 2018.
- Check to make sure your health insurance carrier will still be offering plans in 2018. Anthem, Aetna and Humana are the carriers that are leaving the most counties for 2018, but everyone should double check in October to make sure they are able to continue with the same carrier for the coming year. This map lets you search your county to find out what carriers are offering coverage in 2018.
- Monthly insurance premiums are increasing across the United States. Preliminary data from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates a range of premium changes—from an increase of 49 percent in New Mexico to a 5 percent decrease in Rhode Island. Companies MUST set their premiums for 2018 by September 27, so be on the lookout in October for these rates.
- Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) also known as Extra Savings are at risk because the current administration may not continue these payments to insurance companies. CSRs are the payments that the federal government sends directly to insurers to reduce the amount consumers pay in deductibles, copays, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. To qualify for these CSRs you must be enrolled in a silver level plan (sometimes referred to as enhanced silver plans) and your income must be below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and above the Medicaid limit. Visit HealthCare.gov’s savings tool to find out if your household income qualifies you for CSR.
What should you do to protect yourself?
- Call your medical providers and speak to the billing department to find out which marketplace health insurance carriers they will be accepting in 2018. This will prepare you to deal with any carriers leaving the marketplace or a premium increase that is no longer manageable.
- Shop Around! At renewal time you should be armed with alternatives in case you need to switch to a different health insurance. Be sure to calculate the monthly premium costs and compare them with the out-of-pocket expenses you estimate for 2018 based on the different metal tier levels.
- Contact your elected officials and let them know why CSRs, protecting the ACA and stabilizing the insurance market are so important to you. For information on how to contact your elected officials, please revisit our HQ from February.
- Call The Actors Fund for help! We will continue to provide enrollment assistance, counseling sessions and workshops. We’re adding more health policy information to our workshops to keep everyone informed and equipped with the tools to get involved in policy and advocacy.
Yours in good health,
Health Services, Western Region
Do you work in performing arts and entertainment and have questions about health insurance? The Actors Fund provides assistance nationally. Contact our regional office closest to you to speak to a counselor.
New York City
Don’t forget to use the resources section of our website. It contains tools to help you make decisions about your health insurance, including new online tutorials on how to choose providers and how to read an Explanation of Benefits. In addition, you’ll find an updated Stage Managers National Health Directory, our national online directory of health care providers recommended by industry professionals that can be used by theatres and touring companies. For these resources and more, visit actorsfund.org/HealthServices. You can also find out more about enrollment assistance and upcoming health insurance seminars near you!