As we progress throughout 2017 there are an increasing number of health insurance companies that have announced that they will no longer participate in the Obamacare marketplace for the upcoming enrollment period of 2018. In addition to many providers completely withdrawing from the marketplaces, there are many states and counties where families only have one health insurance company to choose from. As has been well reported, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace is contracting. But what should you do now?
The problems are accelerating. Anthem Blue Cross may be withdrawing from 14 plus states, including Missouri and Ohio. Note that this company is also the only choice for consumers in about 300 counties according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So if they withdraw, anyone that uses them will be greatly impacted.
Arizona only has one health insurance provider, and their rates are going up double to triple digits in some cases. Aenta withdraw for 2017, and other carriers such as United Health Care are long gone, with Humana leaving in 2018. In fact it is estimated that about 40% of counties will have either no or one health insurance company for consumers to select from…this gives all of the pricing power to the corporation and non to the individual.
So the marketplace is a mess, and may only get worse. This really impacts more working class as well as moderate income families, who can’t get assistance from Medicaid. Since there are about 11 million people on the ACA exchanges, the lack of insurance policies could cause a hardship for hundreds of thousands of households if not millions.
Therefore if you find yourself unable to get an Obamacare health insurance plan for 2018, here are some steps to take. There are of course in addition to buying a health care plan off the exchanges, which anyone can always do. Each one of these options will come with various pros and cons, but families do have some options.
What should you do if no Obamacare plan in 2018?
First of all, there are some faith based health insurance type plans available to you, most of which are for Christians. Note these are not formally approved by states to be offered as “health insurance” policies, but they operate in similar fashion. Note they will only be available for people of Catholic – Christian faith, so this does in effect limit their coverage.
They are risk sharing type pools. So you will need to agree to a certain plan and they pay a monthly premium. Then, if and when you need to use the insurance, there will be funds allocated to you being the patient. The Christian health insurance company will take funds from all of the “premiums” paid in and help you pay for the medical care they need. It is expected that millions of Americans will be enrolled into one of these plans as we enter 2018. Read Christian health insurance.
Many low to moderate income families that are enrolled into Obamacare benefit from a government subsidy, which lowers their monthly premiums. This is particularly true in deep southern states such as Kentucky or Tennessee. But this may not help you, as unfortunately more moderate income families may not have an income low enough to qualify for expanded Medicaid. But without those subsidies they may than likely would not be able to afford the policy. Low income patients also have some options available to them as well.
The first option available to you would be to use a community clinic. There are thousands of medical as well as dental centers around the nation that operate on a sliding fee. So patients only pay what they can afford towards their medical bills, prescriptions, and other costs. Or if there income is low enough a center may offer them free care. The sliding fee community clinics operate in all states.
There are other ways for you to get free or affordable medical care in 2018. Most of these are income based, so those low income families that relied on Obamacare subsidies to pay their bills may be able to get help. The options range from charities to pharmaceutical payment plans and others. States are also stepping up to fill the void by offering solutions, and they have health insurance programs for the uninsured as well.
So Obamacare is struggling, and unless some changes are made to it for 2018 the problems may even become more severe. As we always say here, plan now for any future impact, and we thing everyone should do that. This holds true for health insurance as well…as always, plan for the worst and hope for the best.