Thursday, November 5, 2015

Open Enrollment - note from Grassroots North Shore in Milwaukee

It's healthcare enrollment season again. Remember: everyone is required to carry health insurance or pay a special tax surcharge. If you're covered by your employer, you probably know what to do. If you're over 65, Medicare is likely to be your primary health insurance plan. The budget deal President Obama signed yesterday finally determined what premiums for Medicare in 2016 will be. Here's the account from Forbes (but you should receive some kind of official notification from the government in the near future):

The Part B payment for all those who’ll turn 65 next year and join the program, as well as some upper-income people (incomes over $85,000 or $170,000 for married couples filing jointly) and poor people whose premiums are paid by state governments, ... will increase 15% to $123 a month ($120 plus a $3 surcharge).... Higher-income beneficiaries will likely owe premiums of $168 to $384 plus the surcharge....

Similar, the annual Part B deductible — the amount in doctor bills you have to pay each year before full coverage begins — will increase to $167, from $147 this year. This will avoid the planned deductible boost to $223.

For most Medicare beneficiaries, the Part B premium in 2016 will be unchanged, at $104.90 a month, and the deductible will stay at $147.

If you aren't covered through your workplace or by Medicare, you will shop in the individual market (that's Obamacare). To make sure you're getting the best possible deal, don't just stick with the plan you bought for 2015. It will pay for you to look at the competing plans in your area.

You can search by zip code to see what plans, companies, prices and more are available in your county. You don't need to log in or create a username and password; just provide an age and estimate annual income to see what is available.

For coverage that begins on Jan 1, 2016, you will need to be enrolled by December 15, but you can sign up until Jan 31, 2016 — as long as you don't mind risking exposure for the first couple of months in 2016. Just don't slip on any ice or throw your back out shoveling snow before your coverage takes effect!

In terms of competition among plans and pricing, there's some good news and some bad. Some areas of WI have new insurance options; others have lost some plans. And while insurance premiums generally have not skyrocketed, they are still very expensive. Wisconsin has been one of the most expensive states in the nation for health insurance, and even a 4% increase means a large dollar amount.

What is most concerning are the deductibles and out of pocket costs. Citizen Action's comparison of major metro areas of the state show that for the most commonly available plan, deductibles increased 40% on average. More and more insurance companies are pushing more of the burden on consumers. And both Walker's Insurance Commissioner and the State Legislature seem to have no desire to fight for more affordable coverage for you and me.

Important Topics to Remember:

Open Enrollment starts on November 1st and goes until January 31st
Insurance companies are pushing more and more of the cost of healthcare onto consumers, meaning hundreds even thousands more in costs when someone gets sick or injured.
The Walker Administration has made no effort to challenge these higher prices and costs for consumers. The state needs to act to challenge these insurance companies and guarantee quality affordable healthcare!
Other states are not seeing the same rise in deductibles that we are, and if Wisconsin doesn't act we will fall behind. Wisconsin is already one of the most expensive state in the country for health insurance.

It is important, even if you are currently covered, to go back and compare new options. There are new options, new plans, new rates and different tax credits. Be sure to visit today!

If you or someone you know needs assistance navigating the Obamacare landscape, Grassroots North Shore has prepared a document :

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