Understand the climate in the individual health insurance family, and find coverage alternatives.
According to the Brookings Institution, the individual health insurance market provided coverage for 17 million Americans who did not receive employer-sponsored coverage in 2016. Since then, a lot has changed. We have a new president, several components of the ACA have changed, and plan prices have seen significant increases.
Perhaps due to a combination of these factors, insurance companies have been pulling out of the individual health insurance market—meaning less plan options for individuals and families purchasing their own health insurance through various exchanges.
There’s good news for those who buy insurance on the individual market
If you are looking for health coverage all on your own, it might seem like all bad news. But in reality, you have plenty of options outside of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare depending on what you call it.
Although the prices on Obamacare plans that offer comprehensive benefits may be skyrocketing in many markets, and insurance companies are pulling out of the exchanges, there are plenty of other, more affordable types of coverage than the dwindling, expensive, major medical ACA-compliant plans.
Why are there not enough individual plans on the health insurance markets?
It’s not just private online marketplaces like eHealth that are seeing insurance companies leave by any means—in fact, insurance companies are leaving Obamacare exchanges all over the county. Washington State recently became the third state to have counties without any Obamacare insurers to speak of—meaning the 2,100 people in the three Washington counties without Obamacare options are going to need to find some alternative to individual health insurance.
An even grimmer analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2017, 31% of counties only had one insurer available.
And if the dwindling plan options and fleeing insurance companies are not enough to make the individual health insurance market seem unstable, an eHealth study shows that monthly premiums have increased from $271 to $440 between the first full year of ACA implementation and now.
There are still options besides typical health insurance plans
The reasons behind this massive flight from the exchanges are complicated, political, and aren’t agreed upon by all Americans (and probably never will be). But what can be agreed upon is that there are now huge groups of people in counties all over the U.S. that need more options for health insurance. And luckily, eHealth has those options.
If you’re looking for more affordable health insurance or coverage with different benefits, then we have plenty of insurance products for you. Some of these include:
- Short term health insurance. This type of coverage will give you a bare minimum of benefits, but at a monthly price that generally can’t be beat by more comprehensive plans. If you are healthy and only need coverage for a short period of time, this might be a great option for you. Read more about short term plans here.
- Telemedicine. If you want to save on doctor’s visits for minor issues, you can invest in a telemedicine plan. You’ll get 24/7 doctor support over the phone for non-emergency issues, all at a low monthly cost.
- Medical Indemnity Insurance. With much more affordable rates than typical Obamacare plans, medical indemnity insurance gives you a fixed cash benefit in the case of a covered serious illness or injury instead of the benefits typically provided by Obamacare plans.
- Medical Insurance Packages. If the lack of options in the individual health insurance market has left you without access to affordable coverage, you can look at medical insurance packages which combine different insurance policies and products into one affordable package.
- Prescription Discount Cards. If prescription drugs are a major health cost for you, then having a prescription discount card could end up saving you big time. The cards we offer at eHealth are accepted at over 60,00 pharmacies around the country. These cards are not insurance, but they may help you save some money on your prescription drugs.
To see all of the alternatives we have to major medical and Obamacare plans, visit eHealth. These alternatives generally do not provide the same benefits or coverage of major medical or Obamacare plans, so they often do not provide the minimum essential benefits under the ACA or coverage of pre-existing medical conditions. They may have exclusions based on medical history, and they are not eligible for government subsidies. However, they also typically have lower monthly premiums than more comprehensive plans.
And keep in mind that every plan has its own terms and limitations, so be sure to check the official plan documents to understand how that specific plan works. This article is only for general education.
Why haven’t I heard of these health insurance options?
A huge step taken against the Affordable Care Act was to dismantle the individual mandate penalty. This ACA law required most Americans to have health insurance coverage that met the standards of the ACA, or else pay a penalty (unless they met the qualifications for a hardship exemption).
This penalty was likely a huge reason why you might not have heard of alternatives to Obamacare—because up until now, if you chose to be covered by those plans, you would likely face a fine.
Because the penalty will not apply to health insurance you buy for 2019, these affordable health insurance alternatives may be even more appealing this year. When shopping for health insurance during the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, you can choose from a wide array of alternative health insurance options without paying a penalty for not having an ACA-compliant plan.
Whether you buy an alternative health insurance product simply to weather out the uncertainty in Obamacare exchanges and the individual health insurance market as a whole, or you love the limited benefits but lower prices of these products, eHealth is here to provide you with options and support.