More than ever, Texas residents will find they need to do some comparison shopping for the best Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage plans for 2017. There have been pricing changes with many carriers for the coming years as well as several major carriers dropping off from the Texas exchange or limiting which cities they will continue to offer coverage plans. And remember, the Open Enrollment Period is now the only time you can change your health insurance plan, so make sure to contact your insurance agent before December 15th so you can get the coverage you need for 2017.
Carriers Planning to Leave Texas
The largest metro area in Texas, Tarrant County, has lost four major health insurance carriers for 2017: Aetna, Cigna, Scott & White, and United Health. This leaves Blue Cross Blue Shield as the only ACA health plan available for the area. In fact, United Health Care has given advanced notice that they are dropping out of Texas entirely. Cigna currently has only 19,000 of the 1,205,174 ACA plans enrolled in Texas, and they are considering leaving Texas soon also. Still, they will continue selling private health plans in Texas areas. Another major insurance provider, Oscar, has joined the ACA carriers mentioned above by partially leaving many parts of Texas saying they feel covering health costs for mid-income Texas residents is unsustainable at this time.
Under the new law, Texas is receiving $5,326,798 to compensate against the risk of expected unreasonable increases of annual premium rates. Still, Texans will have to expect an overall increase in coverage rates for next year. Remaining ACA carriers in Texas have requested rate increases that range from just over 8% to 58.40% more than last year’s rates. An HMO named BCBS of Texas has requested the highest rate raise of 58.40%. Christus Health Plan has a range of increases of up to 30% depending on where you are located in Texas.
A spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said that the company has not committed to rates so far for 2017, and added that they lost $770 million in the Texas marketplace in 2015 alone. The company has been in this market over 80 years and is not currently seeking to follow those companies that have already dropped out.
Texas is not alone in the uncertainty of healthcare for 2017; carriers and rates are drastically changing in all but a few states in the USA. It is an unstable time with major insurers pulling out of national exchanges and rates continuing to increase premium costs.
Some Positive ACA Choices
Good news for the 133,673 enrollees in the Molina Healthcare of Texas health care plans, as they will expect a less than 10% increase in their health care costs in 2017. Community First Health plans and Community Health Choice will still be providing ACA health coverage with a rate increase of only 6.91% to 8.66% more this year.
The new ACA law allows families to continue, or add, their children to their medical health insurance plans until they reach 26 years of age. Also, new extended benefits are being offered through Medicaid, which includes non-elderly family members in specified circumstances. This could provide 1,208,000 uninsured Texans opportunity for affordable medical care. The estimated monthly cost for health premiums, after tax benefits, would be approximated at $100 per month.
As Texans begin to shop for the best possible deals to cover their personal and families’ medical care for 2017, remember three things: check ahead to be sure providers with lower rate increase like Molina are accepted in your area, look at the coverage plans themselves to determine if the coverage they offer fully meet your medical needs, and speak with a Ramey King Insurance agent to make sure you get the best plan and pricing available. We are here to help you to find the dependable coverage you deserve.
Remember, the Open Enrollment Period is now the ONLY time you can start or change your health insurance plan, so make sure you don’t miss it! The OEP runs from November 1st to December 15, so contact us today before you forget and miss your chance to get coverage for 2017.