health insurance exchange signup

Health Insurance Exchange Key Dates for 2017

Need health insurance? The health insurance exchange open enrollment period is November 1, 2016-January 31, 2017. It is an important time to review options, as we see too many people stuck without coverage mid-year. Sign up to get reminders from the health insurance exchange (and join our newsletter for this and other important updates).

Health Insurance Exchange Special Enrollment Periods

This is because outside of the Open Enrollment Period, you can only enroll in a health insurance plan if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Who qualifies for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP)? You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you’ve had certain life events, such as losing health coverage, moving, getting married or divorced, having a baby, or adopting a child. If you qualify, you usually have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan. If you miss that window, you have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period to apply.

The only exception to this would be if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which you can apply for at any time. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can get this coverage or that it will cover what you need, however. It is best to look at your options during open enrollment (and review quickly if you have a qualifying life event/lose other coverage).

You can visit the health insurance exchange screening tool to see if you qualify for a SEP or Medicaid/CHIP and start an application.

Job-based insurance enrollment periods vary…check with your employer. There is also the option of purchasing an individual plan outside of the exchange. These options are pretty limited (and expensive, plus you won’t qualify for tax credits or savings based on income) but a broker, agent or health insurance company can tell you what your options are (and if the plan meets the minimum qualifications, which means you can save the fee that people have to pay who don’t have coverage).

What You Can Expect from the Health Insurance Exchange in 2017

An Ever Changing Landscape

United Healthcare is exiting the individual market in Florida (and many other states where they have individual plans) at the end of 2016. This is a particularly big deal because their exit leaves many Florida counties with only one carrier (though these are small counties with minimal numbers of enrollees). Aetna is also leaving the individual market in Florida and all but four states where they participate. Humana is scaling back health insurance exchange participation, but reports indicate they will remain in Florida. And, Cigna is re-entering the Florida health insurance exchange.

Though things frequently change, it looks like eight carriers will be in the Florida health insurance exchange for 2017. But, availability by county varies greatly.

Rate Increases

Proposed rate increases range from 0.8% (Florida Health Care Plan Inc.’s lowest proposed increase) to 44% for Humana. However, as 2016 showed, most carriers will get approved increases significantly less than what they propose. Even still, the average approved rate increase in Florida for 2016 was 9.5 percent. However, the after-subsidy premium increase was just two dollars/month.

These major changes in the available plans (and RATES) are an important reason to shop around during the open enrollment period.

Our next post will offer a concise overview of the health insurance exchange/terminology, tips about choosing plans and any key news updates.