Virginia Health Insurance News: Open Enrollment for 2018

Health insurance Open Enrollment for 2018 is only 45 days long. November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.

Less Time + More People = Delays.

Don’t put it off! Try to enroll early. If you have problems, give us a call at 540-463-6702. We’re here to help.

If we do assist you, please enter our National Producer Number (NPN: 7436916) to note the agent who helped you. You’ll also want to provide permission for the agent to help you for a certain period of time. You can choose a number of days or the whole year. It’s your choice.

Bonus Tip: Anticipating difficulties and delays, you might want to complete enrollment in off hours…early in the morning, weekends, evenings. Even consider time zones as they wake up and get online well before 9am EST.

Again, please contact us if you need any assistance with health insurance Open Enrollment for 2018.

Virginia Health Insurance News: Anthem & Open Enrollment

Anthem Returns to Virginia

Anthem HealthKeepers is back in Virginia. They’re expanding 2018 individual health insurance plan offerings to 68 Virginia cities and counties on and off the exchange. However, they are not in every county in Virginia. This could affect you depending on where you live.

At the present time, these are the local Virginia cities and counties serviced by Anthem HealthKeepers in 2018:

2018 HealthKeepers Health Insurance Virginia

Anthem has the majority of market share in this area, but there are also other companies offering health insurance products in Virginia. In the Lynchburg, VA area, Piedmont Community Health Plan continues to offer Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant plans. Optima will be offering ACA compliant plans as well for the coming year.

Open Enrollment is Shorter

The biggest change this year is the enrollment period. Open Enrollment has been reduced down to ONLY 45 DAYS! From November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. I expect more people will try to get coverage over a shorter time period. This means delays, computer crashes and everything else we experienced the first year of this plan.

My advice? Apply or renew early! Make it the first part of your Christmas to-do list. Here are some other tips to make open enrollment easier.

Also, the health insurance rates this year have increased approximately 45% regardless of your provider.

In the morning news, which could change tomorrow, the idea of insurers offering coverage across state lines has been mentioned. I think the goal of that is to create competition between insurance companies. But nothing official has been done yet. Let’s wait and see.

Need a Health Insurance Agent?

This is my fifth year as a registered health insurance agent for ACA policies. We will be here all year long to assist you with any concerns or questions about your enrollment. Contact us about your health insurance coverage.

3 Tips to Make Health Insurance Enrollment Easier

Open enrollment for health insurance coverage for 2017 is right around the corner. After working with this health insurance enrollment program for a few years, we’ve found there are some actions you can take to make the process easier. Here are 3 tips to make health insurance enrollment easier, more accurate, and better for you.

Self-Reporting

First, self-reporting changes in information will make your health insurance enrollment more accurate.

There are two main factors for whether or not you are eligible for a subsidy, or credit, applied to your monthly health insurance cost. 1. Your yearly earnings, and 2. the number of people in your household. You have the opportunity to self-report changes in these areas to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

When you started your coverage for 2016, you had to estimate what you were going to make this year. The estimate may have been accurate, or it may have been more or less than what you actually will earn this year. Now is a good time to self-report an accurate figure of your earnings for 2016, if it was off.

Also, changes in your household help factor your insurance cost, so you should self-report any changes to the number of people in your household. For example, you may have had a child partway through the year, which will change your marketplace policy by the addition of a new member into your household. This will also change what you need to pay monthly.

** Please remember, what you tell the Health Insurance Marketplace will need to match your tax reporting for the year. **

Know Your Enroller

Who your enroller is can make a big difference in the ease of your health insurance enrollment too.

There are full-time health insurance enrollers and part-time volunteer enrollers for the Marketplace. I bring this up because we’ve had a number of people visit our insurance agency, which is open for business year-around, asking for help with their Marketplace health insurance policy. They signed up with a volunteer enroller…who is no longer available.

The insurance coverage you receive will be the same in both cases. But if you have questions throughout the year, you need to consider if you’ll be able to find your part-time enroller to help you when you need it. They won’t be there in the middle of May when you need your coverages explained.

Also, the training and experience of your enroller is different with a full-time enroller. A licensed insurance agent in the state of Virginia has to complete the federal educational course on the Marketplace each year. A volunteer enroller also has a similar federal training program. However, as a licensed agent, I have to complete continuing education coursework on an annual basis to maintain my license. I also have more experience with explaining your coverages and answering those questions that do come up throughout the year.

Additionally, consider the importance of your Protected Health Information, such as your address, phone number, email, date of birth, social security number, etc. You need to give permission for your enroller to have your protected health information and also to contact you in the future via phone, email, or mail. Wouldn’t you rather have this information kept on file with a licensed insurance agent? It’s something to think about when choosing your health insurance enroller.

Know Your Coverage

It is so important to know your health insurance coverage. During your health insurance enrollment, make sure to have your deductibles and monthly cost explained. But you also want to see your coverage for emergency room visits, prescription drugs, physical therapy, etc.

I always make sure to explain these to my clients, and that the deductible cost will be their first out of pocket expense. I commonly use the idea that healthcare is the castle. To get there, you have to build a deductible bridge dollar by dollar.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is not a perfect system and continues to change each year. To work with it, you should have a licensed insurance agent, like myself, who has been working with this program since its beginning three years ago.

Hopefully these 3 tips will make your health insurance enrollment easier, more accurate, and better for you. Please contact us if you have questions. We’ll be here throughout the year to answer your questions.

New Health Insurance Payment History Report Available

Know Your Health Insurance Payment History

There is a new report available from your health insurance carrier (such as Anthem) for Affordable Care Act (ACA) participants titled the “Premium Payment History Report”. This health insurance payment history report will show all of your payments, when they were posted to your account, the amount you were billed, etc., and will be a great record for your tax preparer in January.

The report will also show your “Amount Due” which is your net monthly premium (actual less credits). If this changes, it is noted in this column on the report.

I’ve had to use this report, and a calculator, to explain some of the billing calculations to my clients that are not explained in the various billing statements provided by their health insurance carrier.

Request Your Premium Payment History Report from your Health Insurer

Current Affordable Care Act participants, you’ll want to contact your health insurance company (such as Anthem at 855-748-1810) and ask for a Premium Payment History report. In addition to requesting this new report for your records, now is a good time to double-check your health insurance information and self-report recent changes to Healthcare.gov.

The Importance of Self-Reporting Changes to Healthcare.gov

Healthcare.gov encourages you to self-report any income changes or changes in covered individuals. If your income has changed over the last year, now is the time to report it to Healthcare.gov (1-800-318-2596) because this could effect your available tax credits.

Spring of 2015 was the first tax reporting cycle for ACA participants who were able to use the available tax credits provided by the government to subsidize health insurance expense.

If you have been receiving a larger tax credit due to outdated income information, you will have to repay those tax credits back through the IRS when you file. That is why it is important to self-report those changes now.

Doing a couple small things now, like requesting your payment history and self-reporting changes, can make a big difference come tax season.