It’s a smart move to stay on top of the country’s health care policy to better anticipate what changes may be coming to your coverage plan. In some ways, this is easier said than done. Multiple health care reform bills have been debated in Congress over the past year and the final tax reform bill included several health care-related changes. Keeping track of what’s happening is no easy task and it can be overwhelming to separate fact from fiction.
All of that uncertainty can be especially stressful if you rely on the individual marketplace for coverage. (The individual marketplace is where people under age 65 can purchase their own health care plans if they don’t receive coverage through an employer or association.) To get a better understanding of where things currently stand, here are the facts about health insurance in Michigan:
- The Affordable Care Act has NOT been repealed. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 31 percent of respondents thought the ACA has been repealed or weren’t sure about it. The fact is, the ACA is still the current law. That means insurance companies are still prohibited from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, subsidies for private insurance premiums are still in place and certain preventive care services are still required to be covered free of charge.
- The individual mandate HAS been removed. That same Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 18 percent of respondents weren’t sure whether or not Congress had repealed the individual mandate. They have. The individual mandate was a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring people to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Without it, there will no longer be fines imposed on those who choose not to purchase health insurance. This change goes into effect next year, during the 2019 open enrollment period (November 1, 2018 through December 15, 2018).
- The individual marketplace still exists. You can still get coverage through the individual marketplace (healthcare.gov) as well as directly through private insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. That said, the Congressional Budget Office predicts future increases in premiums due to the individual mandate being repealed. And in states with smaller markets, more private insurers might leave the marketplace, reducing coverage options. Rest assured that Blue Cross continues to offer a variety of plans through the individual marketplace and is currently the only company offering health insurance to individuals in all 83 counties of Michigan.
- Individuals signing up for plans went down this year. Compared to previous years, fewer Michiganders signed up for health insurance through the individual marketplace for 2018 coverage. There were around 300,000 sign-ups, which is about a nine percent drop compared to last year. Nationally, sign-ups were down about five percent. These decreases have been attributed to several factors, including a shorter enrollment period and increases in the cost of coverage.
Hopefully, this helped explain where health insurance stands now in Michigan. For more updates on health care, check back here. And for more information about getting the best coverage, check out these blog posts:
- 5 Things You Need to Know If You’re Newly Insured
- Understanding Individual Plan Coverage Outside of Michigan
- A New Addition: Adding Children to Your Health Care Plan
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