eHealth Identifies Five Big Changes That Health Insurance Shoppers Should Know About For the 2015 Open Enrollment Period
From higher tax penalties to new plans and premiums, changes to Obamacare in 2015 could impact consumer costs
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – November 11, 2014 – Today eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH – eHealthInsurance.com), the nation’s first and largest private online health insurance exchange, identified five key differences between the 2014 and 2015 Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment periods that all health insurance shoppers should know about before they decide whether or not to shop for 2015 coverage.
The ACA’s 2015 open enrollment period is scheduled to begin on November 15, 2014 and continue through February 15, 2015. For many consumers, this open enrollment period may be their only chance to apply for premium subsidies and enroll in the major medical individual and family health insurance coverage they need for 2015.
“Whether you’re already covered or currently uninsured, we recommend that you look at your coverage options for 2015 during the upcoming open enrollment period,” said Gary Matalucci, eHealth’s Vice President of Customer Care. “The fact is, doing nothing during this open enrollment period could cost you a lot of money. If you don’t review your coverage options for 2015, you could lose out on subsidies, face serious tax penalties, or get stuck for an entire year with a health insurance plan that may not meet your personal coverage needs.”
Five Things Health Insurance Shoppers Need to Know About What’s Changing for 2015
1. You may have some new plans to choose from for 2015. A few brand-name insurance companies that stayed out of the individual and family health insurance market last year will be offering plans for 2015. Other insurers will also be introducing new health insurance plans. Open enrollment is your chance to make sure that you still have the ACA-compliant health plan that’s best suited to your individual coverage needs and budget. It only takes a few minutes to review your options for 2015 when you shop through a licensed online marketplace like eHealth.
2. The monthly premiums for your current plan may increase next year. While monthly premiums for some 2015 plans are still being announced, a 5.6% average increase in monthly premiums for individual coverage has been projected by PwC1. That’s just a projected average. Some people could see rates on their current plan go down, while others could see rates increase even more than 20%, according to PwC. If you’re already insured, expect to hear from your insurer soon about your 2015 premiums. Be sure to shop around to make sure you’re still getting the most out of your health insurance dollars.
3. Your eligibility for government health insurance subsidies may change. The ACA makes government subsidies available to people who earn up to 400% of the federal poverty level (about $47,000 for a single person or $95,000 for family of four2). If your income has changed since last open enrollment, it’s time to re-examine your eligibility for a subsidy. You may no longer be eligible for one, or you may be eligible for a bigger subsidy in 2015. Depending on the preferences you communicated when applying last time, your subsidy could actually decrease or vanish entirely, even if you stick with the same plan next year.
4. The “benchmark” plan in your area may change, with serious consequences. The “benchmark” plan in your area is a silver-level plan used to calibrate the value of any government health insurance subsidies you may receive. Since the benchmark plan is the second-least expensive silver plan available to you, and since rates are changing and new plans are being introduced, the benchmark plan in your area may change too. This means that the value and dollar amount of your subsidies can change, even if you don’t change plans in 2015. Reshop during open enrollment to make sure you’re not missing out.
5. The tax penalties for going uninsured or underinsured are increasing for 2015. Tax season for the 2014 tax year is still a few months away, so many consumers haven’t felt the pinch of ACA tax penalties yet. In 2014 the penalty for going three months or more without ACA-compliant coverage was $95 per adult or 1% of your annual income, whichever is greater. Next year these penalties are going to increase substantially to $325 per adult or 2% of your taxable income, whichever is greater. Avoid the penalty for 2015 by taking advantage of the open enrollment period to enroll in coverage.
- Subsidy Help Center - eHealth recently launched a new Subsidy Help Center to address the special concerns and questions of subsidy-eligible health insurance policy holders who are unsure if they should reshop for coverage during the upcoming open enrollment period. eHealth’s Subsidy Help Center is located online at http://ehealth.com/subsidy.
- Free Consumer Education Webcast – On November 12, 2014 at 11:00AM Pacific Time, eHealth will be hosting a Webcast titled “Obamacare 2015: An Insider’s Guide to Making the Affordable Care Act Work for You.” The live Webcast will address changes to the Affordable Care Act for 2015 and answer questions faced by health insurance shoppers during the upcoming open enrollment season. Consumers can sign up for the Webcast through eHealth’s Subsidy Help Center.
1 Source: Analysis of projected 2015 rates for individual coverage from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, based on data available as of November 11, 2014, shows an estimated nationwide increase of 5.6%.
2 Federal poverty level figures for the contiguous United States are used for these estimates. Federal poverty level figures are somewhat higher in the states of Alaska and Hawaii.