A first for Obamacare open enrollment — some stability as more insurers rejoin network
- Nov. 1 kicked off the 2019 open enrollment season to sign up for insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
- The Trump administration extended the length of cheaper, short-term plans with fewer benefits to provide up to 12 months of coverage.
- Online insurance brokerage eHealth boosted its staffing this fall to help consumers navigate all of the new alternatives.
Nancy Sobin knows her way around paperwork. She started her own business three years ago, helping small business owners and elderly clients manage their finances. That’s when she turned to the Obamacare exchanges for health coverage.
“I was fortunate enough, because I was just starting my business, to get a subsidy … and it was pretty good insurance” for about $300 a month, said the owner of Professional Paperwork Services in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
But as her business improved, her insurance options changed last year.
“I didn’t get the subsidy anymore, because my business went well,” Sobin explained. So, she switched plans to “the least expensive one I could get — and it was $750 a month.”
With the Nov. 1 start of 2019 open enrollment on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the New Jersey native says it looks like she may have to change coverage again.
“My same plan looks like it’s going to be about $150 more per month” in 2019, or $900, she said.
Yet, she may find savings if she switches plans again. President Donald Trump’s administration says on average prices for 2019 are 1.5 percent lower than they were last year on the federal health exchange, healthcare.gov.
After years of regulatory uncertainty which led to double-digit price hikes on exchange plans, health insurers are starting to turn a profit on the ACA exchanges. For 2019, there are more carriers getting back into the market and offering new plan options.
“Our view is (that) the marketplace for the individual exchange business is more competitive in 2019 than it has been … there’s more competitors entering the space,” said Cigna CEO David Cordani on the company’s earnings conference call Thursday.