In Pennsylvania, the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace is more than holding its own, despite continued news reports about state and federal policy conflicts and changes. Navigating through all this information can get confusing, even for a health-care policy wonk such as me.
Open enrollment for 2019 is around the corner: Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Pennsylvanians shopping for health insurance at healthcare.gov may find the experience as good as — or in some ways even better than — last year's.
Here are five reasons why:
1. The same financial help is available — on average, about $625 a month. Healthcare.gov continues to provide the same tax credits and other financial assistance that have helped make marketplace coverage affordable for so many. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, about four out of every five Pennsylvanians with marketplace plans receive tax credits that subsidize their monthly health insurance premiums. During this year (2018), these households are receiving on average $625 a month in tax credits.
2. Many premiums will increase only slightly. Some are even going down. Here's what we know now about marketplace plan premium rates for 2019:
These are insurers' requested rates for 2019. The Insurance Department plans to announce final, approved rates soon, likely during the middle of October. As always, consumers should shop carefully to find the best plan for their health needs and financial situations. And remember that most Pennsylvanians will get tax credits that will greatly reduce what they pay for marketplace health insurance.
3. Many Pennsylvanians will have more coverage choices. The number of insurers and health plans participating in the marketplace is growing, not dropping. During 2019:
Low premium increases and more coverage choices show that Pennsylvania's marketplace is healthy and stable.
4. Pennsylvania's marketplace provides the same consumer protections as always. The Affordable Care Act's consumer protections apply the same as ever for plans purchased on the marketplace. These protections include coverage for pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy), free preventive care, and no lifetime or yearly dollar amount limits, to name just a few.
5. Consumers can still get help choosing a plan. The Department of Insurance, hospitals and health systems, navigators, and other stakeholders are working hard to make sure that consumers who need help selecting plans and enrolling get that help. Here are some resources that can help with that:
It is more important than ever for each of us to do our best to make sure Pennsylvanians get and stay covered during open enrollment 2019.