Price increases, shorter sign-up time pressure ACA market

Contributed By:The 411 News

Cut in healthcare navigator funds means less help for Indiana shoppers to compare plans

After a year of promises and failures by Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare – the pressure is now on American consumers to decide how they will spend their healthcare dollars in 2018.

ACA beneficiaries have to re-enroll each year. That time is now, November 1 through December 15, 2017, a month-and-a-half shorter than last year.

Indiana State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) says her constituents face added pressures with a cut in the funding for navigators who help shoppers compare the benefits and prices of ACA’s four plans: Bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.

“As part of the ACA, the Navigator Program ensures that properly trained helpers provide assistance for people to determine whether they are eligible for HIP 2.0, and to help insurance shoppers compare plans and apply for coverage,” the senator said.

“The Trump administration just reduced funding to this program by 40 percent nationally. However, Indiana received an additional blow. Indiana received the largest cut in the nation: An astounding 82% decrease. Last year Indiana received $1.6 million to help Hoosier applicants; this year we will receive only $296,704, the lowest amount of any state.” Tallian said the reduction comes despite the fact that Indiana has more uninsured residents than other states who received more money.

ACA enrollees in Indiana will likely need those navigators since two of the state’s 4 providers will no longer offer plans in 2018. Anthem and MDwise are leaving the ACA at the end of 2017, leaving only CareSource and Celtic/Ambetter in Indiana’s ACA exchange program.

The majority of Indiana’s ACA customers are enrolled in Anthem and MDwise and will have to choose which of the remaining providers are the best fit for price and healthcare needs.

President Donald Trump’s decision this month to end the federal cost-sharing payments has raised the cost of ACA premiums. Those federal payments subsidized the out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles and co-payments to insurers, for low-income earners.

President Trump had hinted at the elimination of those federal payments to insurers when he took office. To offset the loss of those payments, insurance companies included the costs of those subsidies into their premiums for 2018.

According to the Indiana Dept. of Insurance, for 2018 CareSource enrollees will see a 20% increase in premium cost while Celtic/Ambetter enrollees will see a 35.7% increase.

Story Posted:10/29/2017

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