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Two major changes, aside from the phasing out of the penalty for not buying an ACA-compliant health insurance plan, are in the air in the health insurance industry.
The first major changes focuses on permanent health insurance plans, while the second (and more recent change) has to do with "temporary" plans. While a marketplace or other more traditional plan might be the best option for most people - these two new options will certainly find their niche.
Small Business & Sole Proprietor Plans
In June of 2018, new measures were released that took longer term goals to open up sale of health insurance across state lines a few important steps ahead.
Now, small-sized businesses and even sole proprietors in the same industry can band together to constitute a "large group insurer". The rules for who can band together to offer lower cost insurance have changed, making it easier for small businesses to take advantage of these plan-types and even to extend their networks across state lines in some cases.
The cost of health insurance has risen so much over the years that smaller businesses were largely driven out of the market and unable to offer coverage to their employees. But because of the recent changes, they can now band together and enjoy exemptions from certain ACA mandates and offer plans that lack certain coverage areas like maternity, newborn, prescription drug, and mental health.
However, such plans would be barred from discriminating against an insured employee based on his/her health history or condition. They also cannot deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions nor even charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions.
Longer Term, Short Term Policies
On August 1, 2018, new rules were unveiled that allow for "short term" health insurance policies to last as long as 3 years, which of course, seems not so short term after all.
Short term plans already existed and already did not have to comply with ACA regulations on numerous points - including not having to cover prescription drugs, maternity, or even preexisting conditions.
Since the tax-payer penalty is being phased out, there'll be no risk of being fined for this non-compliant (but legally permissible) form of insurance in the near future. And if your income was already low enough to merit an exemption to the penalty, then it was already a mute point for you.
It's estimated that this scaled down, short-term insurance will cost half what ACA plans cost, though of course, they won't offer nearly as much coverage.
You should consult an experienced health insurance agent before opting for short-term coverage. You don't want to go under-covered, but in certain situations it can be a good option. Certainly, if you're between jobs, already missed the enrollment period, or can't afford more comprehensive coverage (or get enough of a subsidy for it) - short-term policies are a viable alternative.
Technically, the longer short-term rule is one year, but extensions can ultimately stretch it into three years. States can still put additional requirements on this new breed of short-term policies - and some have already vowed they will. But they're still going to be less "full-scale" and much cheaper than ACA style plans.
At Summerlin Benefits Consulting, we are always on top of the latest developments and winds of change in the health insurance industry. Feel free to contact us today for expert advice on insurance-related issues!