The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has officially been open for less than a month, and people are already outraged as they discover just how much their new insurance premiums are going to be. That is, if they have even been able to complete the application process if they are purchasing on the health exchange!
Although having to comply with the Affordable Care Act is inevitable, there are a couple ways we can suggest to legally delay being forced to purchase a health care plan. In most instances, you will be able to delay having to enroll for at least a year, if not longer.
Stick With Your Grandfathered Health Plan!
If you are currently enrolled in a group health or individual insurance plan that was in place prior to March 23, 2010 (when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law), your plan is considered a grandfathered health plan.
What this means to you is that as long as there have not been substantial changes to the plan in terms of benefits offered or premiums, copays or deductibles charged, the policy does not have to change according to ACA mandates. This means that you will not have to pay extra for services you may not need (like maternity care or childhood immunizations) simply because it is a requirement of your policy.
The reason for sticking with a grandfathered plan is simple. The rate increases for such plans are projected to be far less than the rates charged by plans that are offered on the health exchanges.
However, not all carriers are going to keep their grandfathered plan, so check with your agent, or us, and we’ll let you know what your options are.
Purchase a Plan Prior to January 1
Another way to delay having to purchase an insurance policy that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act is to make sure you purchase a plan with an effective date no later than December 31. This allows you to purchase a plan that is not subject to all of the requirements of Obamacare, and that may be significantly less expensive. In most states, you will be able to keep this plan for an additional 12 months. This allows you the opportunity to both research other health insurance options and also temporarily delay the increased premiums that will come with health plans under the ACA.
Different carriers have different deadlines to secure an effective date of December 31. Some carriers, such as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be accepting applications up until December 30. Keep in mind, though, that with plans whose effective date precedes January 1, 2014, you can still be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.
Do NOT Purchase a Plan on the Health Exchange!
Perhaps the most effective way to postpone having to pay grossly inflated premiums for coverage under the new health care reform laws is to not purchase a policy on the health exchange at all, either on the federal marketplace or on an exchange run by your state.
Whether you qualify for tax credits or not, purchasing an insurance policy from one of the health exchanges is not necessary, and can cost you more in many ways. A mistake in choosing the right plan or applying for tax credits could cost you thousands of dollars.
But the biggest risk with purchasing on the health exchange is that you will not be receiving guidance from a licensed and experienced insurance professional. Instead, you’ll be doing it entirely on your own or receiving assistance from one of the insurance navigators who has had little or no training.
A certified broker will be able to offer any plans sold on the exchange, at the exact same premium. In most states brokers will also be able to offer additional ACA-compliant plans that are not available on the exchange. And they can help you easily navigate the entire complicated and brain-numbing process.
My Best Advice
The best advice I can offer you at this point is to hold off on making any health care decisions until you have been able to speak with an experienced agent or broker. This way you can talk with him or her about what your options are, make sure that you get the coverage you want, and shop around (with their help) for the best possible price.
Sooner or later, we are all going to have to deal with the inevitable problems associated with the Affordable Care Act. Tremendously high premiums and non-essential coverage may be in everyone’s future. Until then, however, the best any of us can do is try to delay the inevitable as long as possible while still acting within the law.
Remember that at HSA for America, we have Personal Advisors who are available to help you with your health care decisions, at no cost or obligation. Please call us at 866-749-2039 and let us help you with all your insurance needs.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.