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President Obama promised that people who liked their health insurance plans could keep their health insurance plans. However, when the state-based and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges opened Oct. 1, 2013, Americans began to realize this might not truly be the case. When plan cancelation notices began to appear, many were frustrated to learn they would have to buy new ACA-compliant health insurance coverage for 2014.
In response, the Obama administration allowed an exemption in 2014 for those who wanted to keep their current health insurance plans—compliant or not. Furthermore, if their health insurance plan was canceled, Obama said, they could opt to re-enroll in a similar plan. As we move pass the year’s halfway point and 2015 open enrollment nears, many want to know what is in store for their non-compliant plans. Will they be canceled? Will individuals and families be penalized for failing to enroll in a health insurance plan that fulfills the Affordable Care Act’s requirements?
What happens in 2015?
You may be able to keep your plan even longer. In March 2014, the Obama administration announced that insurance companies could keep consumers on non-compliant health insurance policies for two more years. As such, it is entirely possible that some Americans may retain their non-compliant health insurance through 2017.
However, insurance companies must continue to offer these policies and state insurance commissioners must allow them to do so. According to a March 5, 2014, CNN Money article, “about half of the states allowed insurers to offer renewals.”
If you are on a health insurance plan that does not meet Affordable Care Act standards and it will no longer be offered in 2015 or beyond, your health insurance carrier will provide a cancellation notice. At that point you must decide to purchase health insurance through your state’s Obamacare exchange or in the private marketplace. Open enrollment for 2015 health insurance coverage is currently scheduled for Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015.
For various reasons, some consumers without employer-sponsored group health insurance will decide not to obtain an ACA-compliant health insurance plan. Some make too much to qualify for exchange-based subsidies, several fall into the coverage gap in which they make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford a qualified health insurance plan, and a few refuse to comply based on personal or political convictions.
While ACA-compliant health insurance plans are intended to be more affordable, accessible and robust (e.g., subsidies, the inability to deny coverage or charge more based on health history, essential health benefits), it seems people have their preferences and satisfaction may not be based on compliance.
A June 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that compliant and non-compliant non-group enrollees shared similar feelings about their health insurance coverage. Of those who enrolled in compliant non-group health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, 55 percent said their coverage was an “excellent” or “good value.” Of those who enrolled in non-compliant, non-group health insurance plans, 58 percent said their coverage was an “excellent” or “good value.”
Those who do not buy health insurance plans that qualify as minimum essential coverage may face a tax penalty known as the shared responsibility payment when filing their federal income taxes. Some are okay with this option and are willing to pay the fine.
However, going without health insurance can be a risky proposition financially. Those who opt to skip compliant minimum essential health insurance coverage may consider supplemental insurance products such as critical illness insurance or bundled gap plans that pay lump-sum cash benefits for certain accidents and illnesses. Those who have no health insurance at all may look into temporary health insurance plans. Temporary health insurance plans last 30 to 364 days, depending on your individual needs and your state’s laws, and provide short-term health insurance benefits for unexpected accidents and illnesses.*
You might also consider shopping your state’s exchange and exploring your options. Determine whether or not you qualify for a premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsidy. Compare your current health insurance coverage with some of the ACA-compliant health insurance plans; you may like what you find. You may also shop for ACA-compliant health insurance in the private marketplace; just know that only exchange-based plans qualify for income-based financial assistance.
Need help finding health insurance?
Call 888-839-7679 to speak with a licensed health insurance agent from healthedeals.com. These individuals can help you weigh your options on and away from the Obamacare exchanges, determine whether or not you qualify for a premium tax credit, and explore supplemental insurance options.
* A SHORT TERM HEALTH BENFIT PLAN IS NOT INTENDED TO QUALIFY AS THE MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE REQUIRED BY THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA). UNLESS YOU PURCHASE A PLAN THAT PROVIDES MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ACA, YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO A FEDERAL TAX PENALTY. ALSO, THE TERMINATION OR LOSS OF THIS POLICY DOES NOT ENTITLE YOU TO A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD TO PURCHASE A HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN THAT QUALIFIES AS MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF AN OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD. THIS POLICY INCLUDES A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSION PROVISION.
1 Zeleny, Jeff, Bruce, Mary. “Obama Announces Insured Can Keep Health Plans for a Year.” ABC News. Nov. 14, 2013.
2 Luhby, Tami. “You Can Keep Your Old Health Plan Til 2016.” CNN Money. March 5, 2014.
4 Hamel, Liz, et al. Survey of Non-Group Health Insurance Enrollees. “Section 2: How Do People In Different Groups Feel About Their Coverage?” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. June 19, 2014.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.