The open enrollment period for individuals purchasing private health insurance has begun once again when the insurance exchanges opened on Saturday. If you like your plan and don’t care about what the cost might be to renew, your policy will automatically renew. If you purchased insurance on the exchanges last year and all you care about is price – then you better go back and shop again.
If you don’t go back on the exchange and shop around, your insurance plan will be automatically renewed on December 15th. On average, the price for the cheapest plan in the most popular category in 2015 will be about 3.4% higher than in 2014. By comparison, prices prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act were around 10% per year for individual insurance. The reason for the slow increase in prices? Competition among insurers.
But keeping the exact same plan may lead to above that 3.4% threshold – in some cases around 9.7%. Therefore, if price is all you care about, keeping the cheapest, most-popular plan from 2014 may not be the best bet any more. Granted, switching plans is not without hassle – it may mean different deductibles, co-payments, drug benefits, and potentially changing doctors.
Regardless of whether you want to change plans, you should go back to the markeplace and update your information, as changes to household income may affect your subsidy.
The New York Times Upshot column shows rates from the 43 states that have published final prices on either Healthcare.gov or that state’s marketplace site.