Insurance commissioner Jessica Altman and human services secretary Teresa Miller joined United Way of the Capital Region, Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers at Hamilton Health Center to remind Pennsylvanians that open enrollment for 2019 individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act began Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.
“This open enrollment will offer many consumers more choices and competitive costs for comprehensive health coverage under the ACA, so I urge consumers to research their options and shop around,” Altman said. “Even if a consumer is currently enrolled in a plan he or she likes, options change every year. In many counties, new options are available that may be an even better fit. Also, new options can change the financial assistance available, so it is critical for those consumers who rely on the exchange for coverage to explore their options this and every year.”
Information on the various plans available in Pennsylvania and where to seek enrollment assistance are available at www.insurance.pa.gov. Consumers may also visit Consumers’ Checkbook at https://pa.checkbookhealth.org to view plan options, estimate monthly premiums and total annual out-of-pocket costs for each plan, and learn how to buy a plan.
The insurance department, in partnership with other state agencies, consumer advocacy organizations, insurers, hospitals, libraries and academia, also created a series of short videos on “Health Insurance Literacy” detailing the important aspects of buying and using health insurance at www.insurance.pa.gov/literacy.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department recently announced the final approved rates for the individual market, which will result in an aggregate statewide decrease of 2.3 percent, while the small group market final rates will result in an aggregate statewide increase of 2.6 percent. The health insurers that currently sell in Pennsylvania’s individual market will all stay in the market and a new carrier has entered the market.
Many consumers will have more choices. People in 30 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will see more health insurers offering coverage in the individual market next year, and, in addition to a new entrant into the market, four of the five insurers already in the individual market expanded their coverage on the exchange compared to last year. Further, the number of counties with just one health insurer offering coverage in the individual market will decrease to 10.
According to the latest US Census data, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate is at a record low 5.5 percent.
Consumers should be careful of where they shop for health insurance. Some companies and agents are offering plans they say are compliant with the ACA, but are not. The federal marketplace’s website ends in “.gov,” so consumers not shopping on Healthcare.gov are not shopping on the federal marketplace.
In addition, consumers buying an off-exchange plan directly from a company should make sure they are on an official website for one of Pennsylvania’s six insurers offering individual health insurance: Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross, UPMC Health Plan and Centene.
Consumers shopping at Healthcare.gov can also determine if they qualify for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. If they or their beneficiaries qualify, they will be automatically redirected to the Department of Human Services’ COMPASS website to complete their application.
“Open enrollment is a critical period for people who purchase coverage through the individual market, but it also helps connect people who qualify because of Medicaid expansion to coverage through the Medicaid program,” said secretary Miller. “I strongly encourage all Pennsylvanians who need health insurance to consider all options available and make sure they get covered for 2019.”
For more information on Medicaid and CHIP, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.
For more information or to contact the Insurance Department’s Bureau of Consumer Services, visit www.insurance.pa.gov or call 877-881-6388.