Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

HEALTH CARE

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 by The Press in News Briefs

Affordable Care Act marketplaces are now open through Dec. 15.

The most important thing people need to know is that financial assistance is still available and, according to the latest analysis from Health and Human Services, people can find even more affordable plans this year than in years past.

This year 80 percent of Pennsylvanians can find a plan for under $75 each month because of the financial assistance that is available that lowers someone’s monthly premiums. Last year, only 59% of people in Pennsylvania were able to find a plan for less than $75 each month.

Although rates have gone up in Pennsylvania due to President DonaldTrump’s decision to stop making cost sharing reduction payments, careful planning by the PA Insurance Department means that most people will be able to find even more affordable plans than last year. This is because the Insurance Department ensured that most increases affected only the marketplace’s Silver Plans, the plans that also include the most help with out-of-pocket costs & premiums.

It remains essential that Pennsylvanians shop around this year. By talking through their options with a trained health insurance navigator, they can make sure that this year’s plans cover their doctors and prescriptions and that out-of-pocket costs are affordable for their family. Navigators are available across the state. To contact PHAN’s trained navigators, call 877-570-3642 or email helpline@pahealthaccess.org.

Key points for Pennsylvanians shopping for coverage:

* Sign up by Dec. 15. Open Enrollment started Nov. 1 but you must take action by Dec. 15, no matter if this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Beat the rush and sign up early.

* Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. In fact, most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month. People will pay less for coverage this year than ever before.

* Shop and save. If you had coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2017, you should come back to update your information and compare your options for 2018. Every year, plans and prices change, you could save money by switching to a new plan that still meets your needs.

* Those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty. There is a minimum penalty of $695 for not having health insurance.

* Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options PHAN has free in person assistance available. You can call or text our toll free helpline at 1-877-570-3642 or visit www.pahealthaccess.org/gethelp

* For individuals making too much to qualify for financial assistance there may be better options off marketplace. Visit https://pa.checkbookhealth.org to find out what other options are available.

* Tax credits protect people from rate increases. A 27-year-old earning $25,000 a year will get a monthly tax credit of $334 each month, an 82 percent increase from $183 each month