MIAMI, Dec. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- HealthCare.com, a leading privately-owned website for consumers shopping for healthcare plans, today released its answers to a top 10 list of questions from consumers who are unsure what the requirements for buying health insurance will be once Donald Trump becomes president.
"HealthCare.com is receiving many, many requests from consumers seeking clarity about their insurance obligations. No one knows exactly what will happen, but there is so much news about 'repeal and replace' of Obamacare and how a new 'TrumpCare' might work, and when it might start, we thought we would release our best answers to the top questions," said Jeff Smedsrud, a co-founder of the company.
1. Am I still required to buy health insurance?
Yes. The penalty for not having health insurance is still in effect and is expected to be during the course of 2017.
2. Will the subsidy that lowers my health insurance costs be eliminated?
Not likely, although it may be changed. Many of the Republican plans call for replacing income-based subsidies with age-based subsidies.
3. Will I have to pay more for health insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
No, not if you purchase a plan during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) which ends on January 31, 2017.
4. Currently, the only place to get a health insurance subsidy is through healthcare.gov or state exchanges. Will that change?
Where you obtain a subsidy won't change during this OEP, but it is increasingly likely that the administration of subsidies will be turned over to private sector companies by 2018. Smedsrud notes, "HealthCare.gov charges insurance companies about $1.2 billion a year to administer premium tax credits. Insurance companies pass this cost along to consumers. Private companies can do it better, for less money. This alone could bring down the cost of insurance by about 3 percent."
5. Will women be charged more for health insurance than men?
No, although Congress could overturn that part of Obamacare that charges women the same as men, it is not likely to happen. Before Obamacare, women were charged more than men in most states.
6. Will the mandate to buy health insurance go away?
You still have to buy coverage in 2017, but you may not be required to starting in 2018. If the mandate is repealed, it's likely that new health insurance regulations would introduce other mechanisms to encourage all individuals to get healthcare coverage.
7. When Republicans say they will "repeal and replace" Obamacare, what does it really mean for someone who pays for their own health insurance?
The political campaign season has ended, but many politically-charged phrases are still being used. It is very unlikely Obamacare will be "repealed'" in its entirety and almost certain that parts of it will be "replaced." People who have health insurance won't be denied coverage. But those who don't have health coverage now may find it harder to buy after this OEP.
8. Will high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs go down?
Sorry, but high deductibles and consumer sharing of medical costs is a trend that will likely continue. However, there are many ways and new technology tools that help consumers become more engaged and empowered to lower health costs.
9. Will those living in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility lose their coverage?
Those enrolled in Medicaid will not lose coverage in 2017, but it could happen in 2018. Republicans plan to provide state "block grant" funds that give them discretion about how to expand (or shrink) their medical assistance programs.
10. What is the best thing for consumers to do right now?
Shop around. There are many types of health insurance plans available -- both directly from insurance carriers and on the federal and state marketplaces. In addition, there are short-term health plans for those in between coverage or believe they cannot afford more comprehensive plans, and other types of supplemental insurance plans to help fill the "gap" in high-deductible plans. Consumers should also consider whether establishing a health savings account is right for them. For consumers who are paying out of their own pocket - for example, if you are under your annual deductible - ask for a cost estimate before incurring non-emergency healthcare expenses, and shop around if possible.
"We encourage everyone to have health insurance but each person is unique and so is their health and financial situation," said Howard Yeh, president and co-founder of HealthCare.com. "Thus far in 2016, nearly three million consumers have used our website to be connected with licensed agents, federally-approved web brokers and insurance companies. We look forward to expanding our services in the months ahead."
HealthCare.com has garnered considerable praise from influential business groups for its consumer-friendly technology tools. It was also recently recognized by Deloitte as one of top 100 private and public technology companies in North America, and was ranked 6 on the Inc. 500 list for insurance firms. Earlier in the year, Red Herring honored the company for its technology achievements.
In the past three years, HealthCare.com has emerged as one of the most-visited online health insurance destinations. The unbiased website features virtually all state-based exchange plans, federal exchange plans, many private, off-exchange plans and options for Medicare-eligible consumers. Using interactive tools and innovative technology, HealthCare.com continues to grow its services to help consumers compare health insurance costs and subsidies for free, and match them to licensed agents at national call centers, web-based entities or directly with a carrier. The goal of HealthCare.com is to help consumers easily research information, compare health insurance quotes from insurance carriers using interactive tools and innovation, and ultimately enroll into coverage. Using trusted recommendations and a comparison-shopping experience to simplify decision-making, consumers can find the right health insurance plan that fits their lifestyles. HealthCare.com is based in Miami, FL. For more information, visit www.HealthCare.com.
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