Big premium increases expected for health insurance this year

A couple navigates health insurance through ACA with a Foundation Community volunteer (Julie Karam, KXAN).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — November is the start of open enrollment, whether it’s for health insurance through an employer or the Affordable Care Act. It’s the time when changes can be made to a health care policy before the new policy starts in January. However, there are big changes this year for those who get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, annual premiums for plans on the marketplace are expected to jump by 25 percent this year, compared to company-sponsored insurance going up by about 3 percent. However, the choices of plans for Central Texans is expanding under the Affordable Care Act. A fourth insurance company is coming on board and this time there are 33 plans to choose from — that’s an increase from 30 options last year.

Foundation Communities is helping Central Texans find the plan that works best for them. They are expecting more people than ever to ask for help to navigate the changes that are a result of the Trump administration cutting 90 percent of Obamacare’s advertising budget and around half of the budget meant to help people through the process. They also cut “cost-sharing subsidies,” which helped lower-income people pay deductibles and co-pays.

Since insurance companies are no longer receiving them, they are raising premiums to make up that loss. To combat that, experts say shop around.

“Your financial help is going to go up the same amount as the premiums increase, so you are protected from those increases,” says Elizabeth Colvin, Director for Insure Central Texas.

The enrollment period is also shorter by several weeks — it runs through Dec. 15th. The website will be taken down Saturday at midnight through Sunday at noon each week for maintenance.

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