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October 23, 2018

Open Enrollment starts next week – Meet with a KC CARE Health Insurance Navigator Today!

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November 1st is just around the corner, which means that it is the beginning of Open Enrollment for 2019 Marketplace health coverage. Now is the time to review healthcare costs and evaluate your health insurance plan options for 2019.

If you already have health insurance, it may be tempting to stick with your current plan. But, doing so could be a missed opportunity to evaluate whether or not your current plan is working for you and determine if a better option exists. If you don’t already have insurance, Open Enrollment is the perfect time to consider your coverage options.

Health insurance is a confusing topic and comparing plans can be a daunting task, but the good news is you are not alone! KC CARE Health Insurance Navigators can help you figure out everything you need to know about Open Enrollment and how to obtain insurance coverage in 2019.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Marketplace was established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013 and allows consumers to shop for and compare health insurance plans. For those who qualify based on household size and income, financial assistance is available to help lower the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins November 1st and ends December 15th. During this time, consumers can apply for financial assistance and choose a 2019 plan either online at healthcare.gov or by phone at 1-800-318-2596. Visit healthcare.gov to learn more about plan options available to you and use the pre-screening tool to determine if you qualify for financial assistance. Health Insurance Navigators at KC CARE offer in-person assistance in applying and enrolling for a health insurance plan.  To schedule a meeting with a Health Insurance Navigator at KC CARE, email navigators@kccare.org or call our Health Insurance Navigator phone line at 816-753-5144 ext.1380 and someone will follow up with you within 24 hours.

What Health Insurance Plans Will I Find on the Marketplace?

All plans sold on the marketplace offer yearlong coverage if you pay your monthly premium, and must cover the 10 essential health benefits as outlined in the ACA. These benefits include:

  • Ambulatory services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalizations
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habitability services
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services,
  • Pediatric care.

In 2019, several different insurance providers are participating in the Marketplace in Kansas and Missouri. In Missouri, consumers can choose plans offered by Medica, Ambetter, and Cigna. In Kansas, consumers can select plans from Medica, Ambetter, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. Premium prices, deductibles, and co-pays all vary depending on the type of plan and level of financial assistance available.

Determining which plan is right for you depends on many factors such as your prescription drug needs, whether or not you are managing a chronic illness, or what hospital and doctors you prefer to be seen by. A Health Insurance Navigator can help you determine which plan best fits your needs.

Changes Coming to the Marketplace in 2019

One of the biggest changes affecting the 2019 coverage year is the end of the individual mandate penalty. Previously under the ACA, those who qualified for health care coverage but opted not to enroll faced a tax penalty the following year. While the individual mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance is technically still in place, the penalty for not having coverage will no longer be enforced in 2019.

The penalty is still in place for 2018, however. Anyone without coverage in the past year or who has experienced a gap in coverage during that time may still be subject to the penalty when they file taxes in 2019. If you think this may apply to you and you aren’t sure, come see a KC CARE Health Insurance Navigator! In addition to helping you enroll, Health Insurance Navigators can also answer questions about tax penalties and exemptions.

Another big change in 2019 will be the emergence of “short-term limited duration” plans. These short-term plans will not be sold directly on the Health Insurance Marketplace, but will be available for purchase from insurance agents, brokers, or directly from a health insurance company.

These short-term, limited duration plans do not have to adhere to the same regulations as plans sold in the marketplace, and are not required to cover the 10 essential health benefits previously listed. Therefore, the coverage offered through these plans will be very limited. They are, however, likely to be cheaper than policies with full medical coverage. Let a KC CARE Health Insurance Navigator help you determine which type of health insurance plan is the best fit for you and your family.

Get Covered!

Health insurance provides a safety net for unexpected health care costs. After all, no one plans for a debilitating illness or injury. It’s easy to put the topic out of mind when you think you don’t need coverage, but should the unthinkable happen, you’ll be glad you did your homework and got covered.