Important things to know before it’s time to enroll in or renew your health care coverage through the 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace

2018 Open Enrollment Runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017

Now is the time to think about your health care needs for 2018. Just as your needs change, health plans change too. New plan options are being offered for 2018 and many of the 2017 plans have undergone changes.

There have been more changes to the plans offered on the Marketplace for 2018 than in any previous year. Many areas of the state that had multiple insurance companies to choose from, now only have one. If you are being forced to switch companies, it is important to remember that you will still have a choice between plans from that company. It is also important to closely look at the network (list of covered hospitals, doctors, labs, etc.) and formulary (list of covered prescriptions). If you see a physician or fill a prescription for a medication that is not covered by the insurance company, you will end up paying more!

Some important elements have not changed for 2018:

The ACA (Obamacare) is still the law of the land! There has been a lot of confusion over the ACA in the past year, but the law still stands. This means individuals must still have insurance, qualify for an exemption, or pay a penalty.

Marketplace plans are available everywhere in VA! Plan options have potentially changed in your area, but there are Marketplace plans available in every city and county in Virginia.

One-on-one help is still available! You will have someone who will help you every step of the way. Located throughout the state, application assisters are highly trained and know all about how to enroll in and renew health care coverage. Their services are at no-cost: you do not have to pay for their help!

Financial assistance is still available! 82% of Virginians who enrolled in 2017 coverage received financial assistance which brought their average monthly health care bill down to $97 per month! The level of assistance you receive is based on your income, many people had even lower monthly bills. Some people qualify for help with their bill each month PLUS lower copayments, coinsurance, deductibles and out of pocket expenses! What’s more, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that this financial help will remain available across Virginia to all those who qualify for it. Those who receive this financial assistance are protected from large rate increases - as the cost of insurance goes up from year-to-year, so does the amount of financial assistance you get. Once 2018 plans are available, you will be able to see how much assistance you can get on the marketplace’s estimator tool or by completing an application during Open Enrollment.

Plans and prices will be available for review in late October. You can create your account prior to November 1 or, if you already have a marketplace account, do an “account tune up”. Make sure you can still access your account and, if needed, update your password. Go to www.healthcare.gov if you need to create or update your account. This will be easier to do before Open Enrollment begins on November 1, because the website and call center will have less traffic and it will make your application and enrollment process faster during Open Enrollment.

You have plenty of options – and one place to go to see them all! Even if there is only one insurance carrier in your area, you can choose from four levels of coverage: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. You can choose coverage from big name companies like Anthem HealthKeepers, CareFirst, Cigna, Optima, and more!

Check back here on November 1, 2017 for all the information you need to sign up for 2018 coverage!