What to expect with 2018 health care plans under the Affordable Care Act

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began today, Wednesday, November 1.

Millions of Americans are now facing a new deadline, changing prices, and fewer options.

President and CEO of Genesis Health System Doug Cropper says the best way to navigate through the confusion and get the most out of your health care plan, is to connect with an expert.

“There still are navigators at Genesis Health System at Community Health Care, and at UnityPoint Health.  All of us have navigators to help people find their way through this confusion and uncertainty,” says Cropper.

This year’s enrollment deadline is December 15, roughly 6 weeks sooner than last year’s deadline.

Customers will also see higher premiums this year.

“(In Iowa and Illinois) the plans participating on the marketplace are … anywhere from a 40-55 percent increases in premiums,” says Tom Bowman, CEO of Community Health Center.

Bowman says the hardest hit will be higher middle-income families. Some lower-income families will be able to take advantage of federal tax credits that could decrease their premium costs.

Those credits are based on things like family size, the state you live in, and your status on the poverty line.

“It's hard to see who exactly who will see decreases, but if they were going to see decreases it would be those between 100 and 150 percent,” says Bowman.

Fewer health insurance options are also playing a role in the number of people signing up.

In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, a major health care provider in the state announced that it was pulling out of the Affordable Healthcare marketplace.

“We went from four options down to one. We just have Medica. There’s no competition and ideally, we would have competition. Now rate increases are significant, so it defiantly impacts people,” says Cropper.

To get help choosing a new health insurance plan, you can call Community Health Care, Genesis, or UnityPoint Health to set up an appointment.

Health care navigators from Genesis Health will be on hand at the Bettendorf Library starting Monday, November 6 through December 11.

Not able to make it to Bettendorf? Illinois residents can visit the Get Covered Illinois website to connect with a navigator, while Iowa residents can find local help here or by dialing 1-800-318-2596.