Here's how to use the Insurance Marketplace to make sure you aren't affected by increasing premiums.
Insurance premiums are set to jump in 2017, with an average increase of nearly 25 percent. Fortunately, however, this will only affect a small portion of the population. Individuals who are insured by their employer will likely see stable prices, and as the New York Times reported, insurance subsidies will expand for the millions of people who visit the Insurance Marketplace, 85 percent of whom already qualify for assistance .
There are already many important reasons to get online and research available coverage options for you and your family. In the face of growing premiums, however, it's even more crucial to take the time to shop around and identify the most appropriate insurance plan.
Research subsidy options
The first way to avoid paying more for insurance in 2017 is to learn more about your eligibility for a government subsidy. This starts by finding offerings in your area . Again, the majority of people who use the Insurance Marketplace qualify for a subsidy, and this helps protect against increasing premiums.
"5.3 million people were eligible for a subsidy but didn't sign up for coverage."
These subsidies are only offered to people who get coverage through the marketplace. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that of the 7 million Americans who bought insurance outside of the marketplace in 2016, roughly 2.5 million would have qualified for government aid.
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Another 5.3 million people were eligible for a subsidy but didn't sign up for coverage at all. This means that millions of Americans and their families could have gotten affordable health insurance had they taken the time to shop around online.
Investigate year-over-year changes
With increasing premiums, it's a wise investment to double-check that your insurance offerings haven't changed. Consumer Reports found that the relative costs of government-sponsored plans may have changed since last year. What was once the cheapest or most appropriate option may have changed since 2016, and getting online ensures that you avoid unforeseen cost increases.
Your subsidy options can also be different than it was last year. You may have taken a new job or changed income since you last purchased insurance, both of which can affect the amount of assistance you qualify for. Double-checking this can also avoid a rate increase. Overall, you may find that a different package or plan is more appropriate. The New York Times found that even with increasing premium rates, the value of plans sold on the Insurance Marketplace are still cheaper than they would be elsewhere.
Use all available tools
The government has re-tooled the Insurance Marketplace to be even more powerful than in year's past. For example, you can seek out a specific doctor or medication and see if your plan includes them. This way, you can make sure you continue to work with a primary care physician or ensure your prescriptions will be covered.
There are also new shopping tools that make it easier to estimate yearly costs more accurately. You can calculate annual expenses by combining premium costs, subsidy totals and an approximated total for out-of-pocket expenses. This way, you can ensure your plan suits your needs.
You might find that a plan with a lower premium makes more sense if you don't see your doctor very often over the course of a year. Conversely, if you have on-going treatment, a plan with a slightly higher premium but lower out-of-pocket expenses might ultimately cost less. Use the re-vamped shopping tools to hone in on a plan that best suits your needs.
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