Starting Health Insurance Prices for Bronze ACA Plans Go Down in 2019
Yes, 2019 IS the best year to buy your own health insurance, but nobody is shopping!
The Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) open enrollment period started November 1, in most states. In years past, the ACA and the open enrollment period drove heated political debates and dominated news coverage. This year, in spite of some good news, the ACA has failed to dominate the news cycle.
What’s The Good News?
Prices are down: For the millions who buy their own health insurance, many will find lower prices this year. A new eHealth analysis of 38 metropolitan areas found that prices for the lowest-cost plan decreased by 3%, on average, compared to last year.
In many markets, prices on bronze plans are down double-digits. In big cities, like Raleigh, NC (down 26%), Phoenix AZ, (down 18%), Atlanta GA, (down 15%) and Trenton, NJ, (down 13%), people can save $40, $50, even $100 a month in some cases.
What’s The Bad News?
Fewer people are taking advantage of lower prices: A recent announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found enrollments down 38% from the same time last year.
Why are less people shopping?
There is no clear answer as to why fewer people are shopping, but we analyzed our customer communications at eHealth, and when we compared 2017 to 2018, here is what we found:
- Fewer people are losing their old plans – The number people who got an email saying, “your plan was cancelled,” is down 98% from 2017.
- Fewer people are losing their insurance company– The number of people who got an email saying, “your insurance company is leaving the area,“ is down 100% (it actually went to zero) compared to 2017.
- Fewer people are get big price hikes– The number of people who got an email saying, “your prices went up 10% or more,” is down 59% percent compared to 2017.
To make a long story short, it seems like fewer people may be shopping for health insurance this year, because they don’t have to.
Is There Something People Can Do?
At eHealth we think there are at least five good reasons to shop and compare the coverage you had last year with the coverage available in 2019.
- Reason #1: You may find lower prices year – In states like Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Arizona, the starting price of a bronze plan is down $30 a month of more, for the average 40-year-old.
- Reason #2: There are more plans to choose from – On average, you’ll find 31% more plans to choose from when you shop and compare you options online at eHealth or a government marketplace.
- Reason #3: Doctors leave networks, and doctors join networks – Make sure that your doctors are still in your plan’s network for 2019. At eHealth has a simple tool that lets you find plan’s your doctor will accept. Visit doctor.eHealthInsurance.com.
- Reason #4: Your prescription drug coverage can change – Insurance companies can, and often do, change the list of drugs they cover each year. Or, they’ll change co-pays and deductibles, or both. eHealth has another great tool that lets you sort plans in your area to find the plan that gives you the greatest savings on your prescriptions.
- Reason #5: You have more alternatives if can’t afford full ACA coverage – If ACA plans are out of your price range, short-term health insurance plans are now a more reliable alternative. Plans that used to be limited to 90 days of coverage are now available for to a year in a majority of states. And, outside of New Jersey and Massachusetts, there is no tax penalty going without a full-blown, expensive, ACA-compliant health insurance plan
ACA alternatives like short-term don’t have the same benefits as ACA plans but they can provide meaningful coverage from unexpected medical costs.
This video outlines key changes that took place in healthcare regulations for 2019