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Health Insurance Plans: Automatically Re-enroll or Shop Around?

Health Insurance Plans: Automatically Re-enroll or Shop Around?

Posted Nov 20, 2017 by Jenifer Dorsey

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance plans goes from Nov. 1, 2017, to Dec. 15, 2017 — just six short weeks!

By now, you should have received a letter from your health insurance company notifying you of next year's premium, any changes to your plan's coverage, and indicating if your current policy will automatically renew for 2018. 

Well, that makes life easy, doesn’t it?   

Not so fast! 

Letting your health plan automatically renew may not be in your best interest. Remember, insurance markets change annually; premiums rise. And your coverage needs may have changed as well.

It can be worth your while to evaluate your current coverage and shop around to see what plans are available in 2018, how much they cost, and what subsidies you might be eligible for when you shop your state’s Obamacare exchange.

What you need to know about renewing your policy

Regardless of when or where you purchased it, your 2017 health insurance plan will end Dec. 31, 2017. All individual and family major medical health insurance purchased on state and federal exchanges and away from them (in the private market) end with the calendar year.

Here are a few things you should know about 2018 renewals if you purchased a plan through the federally facilitated exchange (healthcare.gov):

  • You are likely to be automatically re-enrolled for 2018 unless you change plans or terminate your coverage by Dec. 15, 2017.[1] State-based exchanges may or may not automatically re-enroll you; check with your exchange for details.
     
  • If your plan automatically renews, it will do so based on your existing household and financial information, which may be inaccurate next year. Update your household and financial information with your state's Obamacare exchange during open enrollment to ensure that you get the correct subsidy amount next year.
     
  • You should have received a letter from your health insurance company before 2018 open enrollment. In addition to providing notice of automatic re-enrollment, any coverage changes and your new premium, the letter will also include your premium rate after your 2018 advanced premium tax credit has been applied.[2] Alternatively, the letter will also notify you if your plan will not be available in 2018.
     
  • You should also receive a letter from your state-based or federally facilitated health insurance exchange. This letter will remind you to update your application and tell you what actions you need to take for 2018.[3]

Shop around – You may be able to find a more affordable health plan

Depending on your income and where you live, it is possible you could find a no-cost or low-cost bronze plan for 2018. For example, in Nashville, Tenn., a 55-year-old who earns up to $36,180 may pay nothing for the lowest-cost bronze plan available through HealthCare.gov—a 55-year-old who earns $48,240 could pay as little as $3.06.[4

Will you be able to afford your plan's deductible?

With a monthly premium of nothing or next to nothing you may have a plan with a deductible in the thousands—as much as $7,350 in the example listed above. That can be a concern if you need to actually use your benefits for unexpected healthcare.

What then? 

You could use your monthly premium savings to purchase a low-cost supplemental health plan to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Supplemental coverage provides fixed-cash benefits when a covered accident or illness occurs (meaning you get a lump sum), and you can use the money to pay for medical bills, household expenses and more while you recover. It’s guaranteed issue and available year-round.

Remember - Your open enrollment window is closing fast!

If you have questions or concerns about automatic re-enrollment, contact your health insurance carrier or ACA exchange.

If you're not sure what combination of major medical and supplemental coverage best meets your needs, talk to a health insurance producer about your options. Call the number on your screen or use Agent Finder to find local, in-person assistance.



Originally published Oct. 21, 2015. Reviewed and updated Nov. 20, 2017.


Legal Disclaimers

[1] HealthCare.gov. “Automatic Re-Enrollment: Keeps You Covered, but Without Updated Savings.” https://www.healthcare.gov/keep-or-change-plan/automatically-enrolled/

[2] Ibid.

[3] HealthCare.gov. “Your 2018 Health Insurance Letters.” https://www.healthcare.gov/keep-or-change-plan/notices/

[4] Rates and subsidies for health insurance plans, effective Jan. 1, 2017, calculated using INSXCloud software