- healthinsurance.org editor
- April 24, 2017
There are many reasons to be encouraged about the coverage gains – and the improvement in the quality of health coverage – under the Affordable Care Act. The law offers subsidies for many low- and middle-income families – and also made coverage accessible to millions more through Medicaid expansion.
But we know there are reasons why that coverage might not work for everyone right now.
One obvious reason: higher individual-market health insurance rates in 2017 that are causing headaches for millions of consumers. In response, many are seeking relief – and finding it – in short-term coverage that isn’t ACA-compliant, but that will still provide a level of protection throughout 2017.
Is short-term health insurance right for you? It could be, if:
- You’re one of 2.6 million Americans caught in the coverage gap.
- Your income is above 400 percent of the poverty level, and thanks to the subsidy cliff, you’re facing premiums that are 25 percent – or more – of your income.
- You’re caught by the family glitch, – and that makes your coverage unaffordable.
If you’re among these consumers – and you’ve looked at all the on- and off-exchange options for regular health insurance and simply cannot afford them – it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of short-term coverage.
Ready to explore your options? You can start exploring coverage through the quote tool at the top of this page. (And if you find a plan, you could be insured as early as tomorrow.)
What’s happening with the Affordable Care Act?
Republicans have continued to attempt to get support for passage of the American Health Care Act — legislation written to repeal or change spending-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
In their attempts to sway public opinion toward repeal of the law, they’ve repeatedly cited a supposedly imminent “Obamacare death spiral.” State marketplace expert Louise Norris says the GOP claim doesn’t hold water.
But what about each state’s marketplace? In her latest post, Norris says that two dozen of the state marketplaces are strong, while only a handful appear to be on thin ice.
Find out the state of your state marketplace in The ACA isn’t imploding. Is your marketplace?
Special enrollment periods: because ‘life happens’
Open enrollment for 2017 ended in January – and for most people, that’s not great news, namely because your opportunity to purchase ACA-compliant health insurance on the individual market will be very limited until the start of the next enrollment period.
When the ACA was written, lawmakers understood the importance of limiting enrollment to specific times of the year. But they also understood that some life-changing events warrant the ability to enroll in a new individual health insurance plan.
If you’re not certain whether you have a qualifying life event, you’re in luck. Louise Norris – our expert on all things open enrollment – has written a Guide to Special Enrollment that explains the most common qualifying events.
- A permanent move
- Involuntary loss of coverage
- A change in citizenship status
- An employer-sponsored plan that isn’t cutting it.
- Divorce, death or legal separation
The guide also explains who doesn’t need a special enrollment period.
Reasons to get and maintain health coverage
As time passes, most Americans are getting the message that it’s getting easier to research and buy coverage – whether it’s through the exchanges (where health insurance premium subsidies are available) or off-exchange.
Thanks to improved online tools, it’s easier than ever to compare health plans – from benefits to premiums and out-of-pocket expenses – while the federal government has mandated improved transparency regarding networks and formulary information.
Of course, by purchasing coverage, you can also avoid or minimize an Obamacare penalty established through the ACA’s individual mandate. Those penalties increased again in 2016 for people who are uninsured and not exempt from the requirement to have health insurance. For 2017 and beyond, the flat-rate penalty will be adjusted annually for inflation, although the percentage of income penalty will remain at 2.5 percent going forward.
But most important of all, it simply makes sense to cover yourself and your family with an ACA-compliant plan that covers the essential health benefits and offers a full range of consumer protections – including protection from staggering financial burdens that result from medical care.
At healthinsurance.org, we don’t sell insurance, but we do partner with qualified call centers staffed with agents who are both licensed in your state and exchange-certified. These partnerships also allow us to deliver health insurance quotes quickly and easily.
Since 1994, this site has been a guide for consumers seeking straightforward explanations about the workings of individual health insurance – also known as medical insurance – and help finding affordable coverage.
The topic of insurance can be confusing, but we’re here with more information than ever: educational articles, expert health policy analysis, frequently asked questions about reform, a health insurance glossary, and guides to the healthcare marketplaces and other insurance resources in each state.
Don’t hesitate to let us know if you hit a snag in the process – or if you’re stumped by a question about health coverage. Of course, we’d also love to hear about your success in getting coverage and quality healthcare.
But today, with the complexities of premium subsidies, cost-sharing subsidies, penalties – and now qualifying events and special enrollment periods – it’s a smart move to talk to a professional who can help minimize your cost and maximize your benefits, and save you research time. Call the number at the top of this page to get free assistance.