Sunday marked the beginning of the annual open enrollment (OE) period for anyone seeking coverage under an individual health insurance policy. We’re now on year three of the ACA’s insurance marketplace open enrollment which means we’ve had some time to see how things have played out. Well – buyer beware. What more than 200,000 individuals have just discovered is that the alluring lower cost Health Republic carrier that many people opted for, has gone bust – shuttering operations at the end of this month.
This OE season, enrollment is open until January 31, 2016 – and three months may sound like plenty of time to enroll – but for coverage to be effective on January 1, elections must be made by December 15.
Last year I wrote a blog with the hope of sharing important enrollment advice, and this year Health Republic’s demise demonstrates that individuals must be even more careful about choosing coverage. Not only did financial instability lead to a major crack, and eventual end, for Health Republic, but their functionality was lacking from the start. At the same time that they were making their debut by appealing to individuals with price point, they were also developing new systems that had to compete with established carrier players who were already entrenched and stable in the marketplace.
As individuals begin to navigate open enrollment, we are stressing to our clients the importance of carefully selecting a carrier and being well-educated consumers. As Craig Hasday wrote in a recent blog, startup Oscar has received a huge financial boost with Google’s investment, but they are another insurer pushing low rates that make sustainability a looming question.
We recommend that individuals evaluate coverage both on and off the exchange. We partner with GoHealth, available through www.frenkelbenefits.com, one of several resources which allows consumers to compare options.