With the Affordable Care Act showing success under multiple measures (reduction in number of uninsureds per Gallup, median premium increase of only 4% per McKinsey Center for US Healthcare Reform, dampening of medical cost increases per the Congressional Budget Office and improving US Treasury Bond outlook, as a result, per Invesco, Credit Suisse and Charles Schwab), the second year of enrollment will be kicking off November 15 lasting through February 15. More insurance companies, like United Healthcare, will be entering a greater number of markets which will increase competition and benefit consumers.
The actuary in me is pleased with greater competition, but I want to remind folks to consider coverage, if they have not done so already. To avoid a future train wreck for you and your family, I would encourage folks to sign up for care, select a physician (or confirm which plans include yours, if you have one) and use the preventive services under the program. The Corporate Benefits Manager in me notes that a weakness of the ACA is its complexity making it difficult to communicate. Like employer plans, some of the offerings are high deductible plans to save money on premiums. Yet, the consumer needs to measure in her/ his plan selection what she/ he may pay if a non-preventive service is needed. If you are not comfortable with exploring your options, please work with an ACA navigator in your community who can help.
Finally, as a Board member of an organization that helps working homeless families, the absence of (or poor) healthcare insurance is the leading cause in the US for personal bankruptcy per The American Journal of Medicine, NerdWallet Health and Harvard University in three separate studies. The ACA offers an opportunity to gain coverage at a subsidized rate if your income is from 1 x to 4 x the poverty rate. Note, for a family of four, this means your family income could be as high as $94,000 and some level of subsidy could still be provided. The navigators can help you plan what the subsidy might be, if you need help. Or, you can go to https://www.healthcare.gov/ to do your own investigation and make your own selections.
I ask for your help in communicating the enrollment, as so many are still unaware of what the Affordable Care Act is and does per the Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Especially those in rural areas, where so many forego coverage and go to the Emergency Room after a healthcare crisis occurs, strong consideration of coverage is needed by more than a few. My family of five has been covered under an ACA plan and it has worked very well for us, even with services for my middle child who is at college in another state. Plus, there is so much campaign rhetoric that accentuates the negative and does little to speak to the many positives of the ACA. When you dig deeper in the survey data, Americans like the many features of the ACA, but their opinion sours when you use its nickname, which is wielded like a weapon.
Truth be told, people would benefit from the ACA and many do not understand it or have discounted it because of political machinations. And, that is unfortunate. Please help spread the word about the opportunity and let people make informed judgments and not rely on political chess maneuvers. Like in chess, it is the pawns that are sacrificed. Kaiser noted in a survey this summer, that of the people who did not like the ACA because it was too expensive, almost two-thirds of those folks were unaware they had a subsidy to reduce the cost.