The results of this month’s presidential election have caused concern about how healthcare will change. And while the specifics are still being worked out, changes in our healthcare system are sure to come. Understandably, many people are wondering how the objectives of the new administration will affect health coverage for themselves and their loved ones.
With that in mind, I am happy to share some insights…
The Affordable Care Act and Medicare
Medicare has been in place for a long time (1965). Tweaks are made on an ongoing basis, including enhancements made with the passage of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In short, and while nothing is guaranteed, there is no reason to think that future changes to the ACA will affect Medicare coverage in 2017.
With that in mind, remember that Medicare Open Enrollment season began on October 15th and continues through December 7th of this year. Any change you make will become effective on January 1, 2017 and continue through the rest of next year.
As always, Open Enrollment is a time to reassess based on an analysis of the healthcare we’ve accessed in the past year and how we hope to access care in the year ahead. From there, we can make adjustments as needed for the future.
Pre-existing medical conditions are not an issue for 2017 coverage
One concern repeatedly raised is about not being able to access coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. It has been a great pleasure over these past few years to reassure individuals that they cannot be discriminated against for having pre-existing conditions and therefore will be able to purchase affordable health insurance without being charged exorbitantly high premiums, as may have occurred in the past.
While we do not know if this will continue on indefinitely in the future, we do know that it will not change for 2017.
Children under the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ plan
Another question I’ve received is from young adults under the age of 26 and their parents. They want to know if they can remain insured on their parents’ plan. Here as well, there are no changes to this coming in 2017.
In addition, I make sure to remind them that if a young adult is turning 26, now is the time to purchase a plan, either through a Healthcare Exchange or directly from an insurer. The Exchange will allow young people to identify if they may be eligible for a subsidy to help pay for premiums. In my experience, the subsidies help to make the difference in their decision to enroll. Here’s where a “helicopter parent” can be helpful!
Purchase insurance now if you have not already done so
Many people who have not purchased insurance in the past are wondering if they should now bother, considering changes that have been discussed. My answer is a definite, “Yes!”
Others, fortunate enough to be planning for early retirement, are wondering if they should change their plans to retire. My answer is a definite, “No!”
First, because this is the time of year when those without insurance may purchase for the coming year.
Second, because you can enroll via a Special Enrollment Period if you are coming off an employer sponsored plan.
While we do not know what may lie ahead, it is my feeling that changes that are being considered for the future are less likely to impact those already insured. If legislation is proposed and passed, transition periods will be included and replacements will be offered.
If you remain uncovered, on the other hand, it’s entirely possible that you may be prevented from purchasing in the same way in the future and that premiums may be different for you if have not maintained continuous coverage.
Despite the volatile election season and all the rhetoric about healthcare and The Affordable Care Act, any changes surrounding these things will take time to legislate and enact into law. At this point, changes for 2017 would be virtually impossible to make. Things take time.
And so I continue to advise people when purchasing any form of healthcare plan, that while we can analyze the past and think about what may occur in the future, none of us has the ability to predict what might happen.
The best we can do is mitigate any risk we have now to the best of our ability and fully understand how the healthcare products we select and purchase will be implemented, appreciating where additional cost may be necessary.