Humana’s announcement last week that it is dropping out of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) exchange and President Donald Trump’s tweet Friday that the Obamacare repeal is “moving fast” capped a frenzied week for the embattled law.
The proposed rule the Trump administration issued last week could mean major changes and increased costs for those who have Obamacare as well as other coverage. Congress would have to act to change Obamacare.
Amid the uncertainty about what will happen to Obamacare, here are five potential ways you and your health care spending could be impacted if the changes succeed.
The main changes would include:
- Giving insurers the ability to offer more products that also cost more.
- Removing the federal government’s oversight of insurers’ hospital and doctor networks.
- Cutting in half the open enrollment period.
- Requiring paperwork in advance that proves eligibility for enrolling outside of the open period.
1. You might need to find a new health plan
Humana last week announced it will drop out of the exchange, saying it would no longer provide individual plans in 2018.
“That’s been a pretty consistent phenomenon for the last two years, where you might have a particular insurance provider and then they pull out of the exchange, and so now you’ve got to go find another one,” says Chris Rylands, a partner in the Atlanta, Ga., office of Bryan Cave LLP, an international law firm. His practice focuses on employee benefits.
Humana analyzed the customers who had signed up through the exchange and found too much risk
2. Your costs for women’s health benefits could rise
With the Trump administration’s vow to overhaul Obamacare, some American women are feeling insecure about their birth control options.
In one example, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in January that Planned Parenthood’s patient requests for IUDs has jumped by 900%.
Sneha Bhakta, 22, is among the women who plan to look into requesting an IUD.
She and her parents pay about $500 each month for the three of them to have insurance through Obamacare.
“I follow the news extremely closely. Yes, my parents are concerned about the changing policies. Mostly because it’s all up in the air,” Bhakta says.
Bhakta, who lives in Atlanta, Ga., attended the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Woman in January, which was among hundreds of events the same weekend as the Women’s March on Washington. She says she’s scared about the possibility of losing coverage, especially the reproductive health care benefits, such as free birth control and pap exams.
3. Your deductible could go up
Proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act will create more leniency in how plans are classified. The greater leniency will allow for more diverse choices in the health care market, but could increase co-payments and deductibles for consumers.
All participating insurance plans have to cover 60% of out-of-pocket costs to qualify as a bronze-level plan, 70% for a silver plan, and 80% for gold. While the insurance plan pays for 70% of out-of-pocket costs for a silver plan, consumers would pay the remaining 30% through a combination of deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. Under the Obama administration, a two-point disparity was permitted, meaning that a plan could cover 68% of the costs and still qualify as a silver plan.
With Trump’s proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act, the disparity has been increased from 2% to 4%. Plans with only 66% coverage would still qualify as a silver plan.
“It gives insurers a little more room to vary their plan terms,” Rylands says.
He adds that although there’s the potential for higher deductibles or out-of-pocket costs, the fact that the proposal extends it by only 2 percentage points means those increases will not be significant.
Already, Americans are showing they’re willing to pay for a plan with high deductibles in order to save money on premiums.
Over the last two years, enrollment in high-deductible health plans with a savings option by workers with employee-sponsored health insurance has increased 8 percentage points, to 29%, according to the 2016 Employee Health Benefits Survey by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.
The survey found average premiums for those plans were “considerably lower” than the average for all plan types, at $5,762 for single coverage and $16,737 for family coverage.
4. You may have to be a bit more on the ball to enroll
The Trump administration’s proposal would cut the open enrollment period, typically three months, in half.
Under the new guidelines, those who need to enroll in health care for 2018 would have from between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, 2017. Insurance coverage will end on Dec. 31, 2017, for all participants, no matter their enrollment date.
Not only would the open enrollment period be shorter, but the president has already slashed the advertising budget for Obamacare. Upon taking office, Trump cut $5 million in advertising days before the Jan. 31, 2017, enrollment deadline.
Enroll America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves as the nation’s leading health care enrollment coalition, criticized the decision and its timing during the critical final days of the enrollment period for 2017. In a January statement, Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, said, “their decision to halt outreach will have real impact on real people’s lives.”
Also last week, the Trump administration announced plans to place more stringent guidelines for the special enrollment period, in an effort to reduce the number of consumers registering outside the open enrollment period. For 2017, the enrollment period ran from Nov. 1, 2016, to Jan. 31, 2017.
The special enrollment period was originally meant for people who experience unexpected changes, such as unemployment, a new baby, or moving states. The Affordable Care Act allows consumers to enroll and submit proof later that they qualify for the special enrollment.
Insurance agencies have found that people signing up under the special enrollment period have higher health care costs, leading agencies to believe that Americans are signing up when already sick.
Under the proposed revisions, consumers will be required to provide proof before signing up for special enrollment.
Your providers could change
Proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act will also remove federal review of insurance networks. The networks were created by the Obama administration in response to complaints that there were too few providers accepting insurance policies purchased in the exchange.
The requirement for a minimum number of providers within a set distance from enrollees could be removed.
While this could reduce consumers’ access to health care within a reasonable distance, Rylands is hopeful it could allow more health insurance companies to continue providing services on the exchange.
“We’ll just have to wait and see if that happens though,” Rylands says.