The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created a lot of chaos since it was enacted. One of the consequences of all the policy changes is that insurance companies have begun to merge in an attempt to continue operating. Recently, Humana and Aetna announced their merger, and they will certainly not be the last. If you buy your own health insurance, you should be aware of how insurance company mergers may affect your coverage and coverage options.
Less Competition in the Healthcare Market
When insurance companies merge, it shrinks the healthcare market and results in less competition. Less competition and merged insurance carriers means that the healthcare market is moving towards becoming a series of monopolies where you, the consumer, get less choice and fewer options for lower-priced plans.
Premium Rate Increases
Merging insurance carriers and less competition can also mean higher prices and rate increases. This has already been happening, as multiple insurance carriers are announcing rate increases of 20% and more for 2016. Carriers include Blue Cross and Blue Shield, with rate increases as high as 54% in Minnesota. Moda Health Plan in Oregon, the company with the largest enrollment in the state, is raising rates by 25%.
What You Should Do
So, what should you do in the face of such high rate increases? It is tempting to feel overwhelmed and helpless, but by following these steps, you can find a plan where you do not have to pay more and can still be thoroughly covered.
- Have your health insurance agent review your coverage yearly.
- Make sure your doctor is covered your chosen network.
- Communicate with your agent about the carriers they’re looking at and what every plan covers.
If you have questions or want to learn more about why premium rate increases are happening and what you can to do save money and get good coverage, we’ve explained it on our Doubling Down – Premiums Get Higher for Obamacare Plans in 2016 blog.
Insurance rate increases are bad for everyone, but it isn’t a hopeless situation. By taking the time to learn as much as you can and communicating with your Personal Benefits Consultant, you can avoid paying more and still get a plan that covers all your 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.