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How an Obamacare repeal could affect employer-based coverage

by Brooke Jarchow

Two weeks ago, Republicans unveiled their first draft of a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, called American Health Care Act.  While there is still no confirmation of how much the replacement plan could cost, its proposed changes could leave millions without health insurance. Those who get health insurance through the open market – accounting for 7 percent of the U.S. population – aren’t the only ones who could be impacted by the new law. Below, we take a look at what the proposed plan could mean for those with health insurance through their employer.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more full-time workers are required to provide health insurance to those employees. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 49 percent of Americans received health insurance through their employers in 2015. However, under the proposed replacement plan, large employers would no longer be required to offer health insurance to their employees.

Under the Affordable Care Act, large employers would face a fine for not offering coverage to their employees; under the American Health Care Act, these same employers would face no such fine. Eliminating this requirement could cause as many as 20 million people to lose their employer-sponsored coverage.

While the American Health Care Act is not yet approved,  it’s clear that Americans who receive coverage through their employers shouldn’t consider themselves exempt from these changes. As details of the American Health Care Act emerge, we will continue to provide updates and education on our blog.

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How would the American Health Care Act be different from Obamacare?

by Lauren Mandel

After months of anticipation, Republicans finally released their proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act last night, something they’re officially calling the American Health Care Act.

But how exactly does the new American Health Care Act differ from the Affordable Care Act? We’re outlining a few key facts you should know about this new bill and what you can still expect to learn in the near future.

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The individual mandate would be gone, but the provision protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions would be here to stay. This means Americans – especially Americans who don’t want or can’t afford health care – may be less likely to obtain coverage. However, if you have a pre-existing condition, like cancer or diabetes, insurers still will not be able to deny you coverage or charge you more for your plan. Another provision that’s staying put? Allowing children to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26.

You could still be penalized for certain behavior concerning your coverage. While you wouldn’t be able to be fined for not having coverage, you would face a fine if you tried to re-enter to market after not maintaining continuous coverage. It’s a different approach than the one taken under the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans are hoping this will still motivate Americans to get health insurance.

Tax credits as we know them would no longer exist. Under the Affordable Care Act, tax credits are based on household income, among other factors. However, under the newly-proposed American Health Care Act, tax credits would be age-based.

Older Americans could be charged more for their coverage. In the past, Obamacare restricted insurers from charging older individuals more for their coverage. But the new bill that Republicans proposed last night would allow insurers to charge older Americans up to five times as much as they would charge younger people for health coverage.

Planned Parenthood would be defunded. In the past, we’ve discussed the potential effects an Obamacare replacement plan could have on women’s health care, and this is one of the most significant ways a bill like the American Health Care Act could change access to care for millions of women.

An Obamacare replacement may have finally been presented, but it’s far from approved. In addition to Democratic opposition, the bill is likely to face opposition from some Republicans, who think more needs to be done to replace Obamacare.

And when it comes to a replacement plan, one of the most important questions still remains unanswered: When it comes to the nearly 20 million Americans who could lose coverage without Obamacare, would they all have the opportunity to regain it under a bill like the American Health Care Act?

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How to use your Obamacare plan

by Brooke Jarchow

Now that you have health insurance, you should be able to access the coverage you need when you need it. Even if you don’t need to see a doctor today, it’s important to activate your coverage so you can take advantage of its benefits in the future. There are many ways to take advantage of your health care benefits to save money and stay healthy. Below, we outline the steps you can follow to use your plan. pexels-photo-160096

Pay your monthly premium

Have you paid your premium? To activate your health insurance, you must pay your first month’s premium to your insurance provider. Delaying this step might delay your coverage. Additionally, add a friendly reminder to pay your premiums monthly so that you stay covered. It’s good practice to follow up with your insurance provider to make sure they received your payment in time.

Make an appointment

Do you only visit the doctor when you are sick? With health insurance, it’s a good idea to make routine visits to your doctor for a check-up even if you feel healthy. Many times, diseases like cancer and diabetes that may not show symptoms are discovered in the early stages during annual check-ups.  Taking preventive measures such as annual check-ups could save your life.

With health insurance, you can find a primary care doctor who you can see regularly whether you’re sick or not.  To find a provider, check your plan’s provider network online or by contacting the insurance company’s member services office.

Fill your prescriptions

Have you shied away from prescription medications due to their expensive costs? With health coverage, prescription medications are covered as part of the 10 Essential Health Benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Prescription medications can help cure illnesses that may not go away or get better without treatment. Go ahead, fill those prescriptions!

It’s important to remember that your health insurance is a great tool for you to access better health care and cost-saving benefits. You can get started today by paying your premium and making your first appointment with your doctor.

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Top unanswered questions regarding an Obamacare repeal

by Brooke Jarchow

Uncertainty continues to linger over the Trump administration’s notion to repeal and replace Obamacare. President Trump, newly-confirmed health secretary Tom Price, and others are still divided when it comes to how to pay for a replacement plan, how much of Obamacare to repeal, and other important details. It’s clear that before moving forward with a plan, the administration will need to address many unanswered questions, and we’re shining a light on 4 of them below.

How would a replacement plan be funded?

Currently, over $100 billion a year is spent on health care costs under the Affordable Care Act. To help pay for these costs, various taxes were included as provisions of the health law.

The new administration has backed getting rid of these taxes and fees, but  how would a replacement plan fund the same health care costs? If the administration is unable to come up with a way to finance a replacement health care law, people could either lose coverage or have to pay much greater costs.

How would the individual insurance markets change?

Obamacare regulates how much insurers can charge and what benefits they must provide, like covering contraceptives and maternity care. A key to Obamacare is ensuring that healthy people – not just the sick – pay for coverage, which balances out the market.

President Trump’s administration plans to allow insurers flexibility to sell different types of insurance and charge different rates. However, it is uncertain how the new plan would make sure sick people aren’t charged high rates or denied coverage, as well as how to ensure young people get coverage.

What could happen to Medicaid expansion?

Medicaid expansion under President Obama insured millions of people by allowing those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line to be eligible for Medicaid. During this time, 31 states opted in for the Medicaid expansion.

If the current administration repeals Obamacare, they could take away health coverage for over 10 million people who gained it through the Medicaid expansion alone.

What is the ultimate goal of President Trump’s “repeal and replace?”

Republicans have openly criticized Obamacare for years and have vowed to cut taxes, regulations, and government spending by repealing and replacing the law. President Trump has stated he wants his replacement plan to “have insurance for everybody,” including those who can’t afford it. However, there is a difference in providing insurance to everyone and providing access to insurance, since access to health insurance doesn’t guarantee the ability to pay for coverage if costs are higher.

So far, a replacement plan is not finalized and Obamacare has yet to be repealed.  GoHealth will continue to provide policy updates as they are made.

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The majority of physicians support the Affordable Care Act

by Brooke Jarchow

With over 20 million people at risk to lose health insurance coverage should the Affordable Care Act be repealed by the Trump administration, we turn to primary care physicians to hear their views on the Affordable Care Act and the potential repeal of the law. The views of primary care physicians are important to consider as they are usually the first point of care for sick individuals and those with health care needs. Below, information from a Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics study reveals what physicians think about the law and the future of health care.

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How the recent Humana news could affect your Obamacare coverage

by Lauren Mandel

Over the past few months, there have been quite a few announcements concerning the future of Obamacare. Yesterday, there was yet another one: Humana announced that it will no longer offer individual health coverage under the Affordable Care Act starting in 2018. If you saw this news, you may be wondering what this information means for you, your family, and your health coverage. If you’re enrolled in a Humana plan through the marketplace, will you lose coverage? When will you need to find a new plan?

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The short answer: don’t panic and remember that GoHealth is here to help you through any future transitions. But we also wanted to share a longer answer with you. Below is more information about this particular Humana announcement, as well as answers to other questions you might have right now.

When will Humana officially stop selling health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act?

In many of the articles you may be reading about this topic, you’re probably seeing that Humana will stop offering coverage “starting in 2018.” So if you have a Humana plan now, does this mean you won’t have to look for a new plan until 2018 begins? Not exactly. The next Open Enrollment Period would likely start on November 1 of this year, 2017.  So, basically, you should start considering other options in 2017, when Open Enrollment begins, so that you have new coverage starting in 2018.

If I’m enrolled in a Humana plan now, will I lose my coverage soon?

If you are currently enrolled in a Humana plan through the marketplace, do not panic; your coverage will not be canceled or revoked for this year. However, you may want to begin thinking about other options for next year. Since Humana will not be offering plans during the next Open Enrollment Period, you will have to shop for a new plan from a new provider in order to secure 2018 coverage.

Now that Humana plans will not be available in 2018, will I have other coverage options?

When you enroll through GoHealth, we’re always here to offer you different options and help you find the best plan available. While Humana may not be offering plans for 2018, we will be able to help connect you with other plans from other top providers once Open Enrollment begins in the fall.

Have other questions? We’re happy to help. Please comment below or call 888-322-7557.

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Activate your health coverage by paying your premium

If you enrolled in health insurance for 2017, make sure to pay your monthly premium in order to activate your coverage for the year.

A premium is a payment to your health insurance provider that is typically charged on a monthly basis. These payments keep your coverage active, similar to paying your electric bill in order to keep your lights on. If you don’t pay your electric bill, you might lose power; if you don’t pay your health insurance premium, your provider may delay or cancel your health coverage plan.

Once you pay your first month’s premium on time, your health insurance coverage will activate. Then, as long as you pay your following premiums on time, your coverage will continue.

Keep in mind that even if you enrolled in an insurance plan through GoHealth.com, your premium payments need to be sent directly to your provider. Your provider likely sent instructions for how and when to make your premium payments, so reach out to your provider if you have any questions on paying your first premium.

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Your health insurance deadline is today

Today is January 31, marking the deadline to enroll in health insurance coverage for 2017. If you choose not to enroll in a health care plan today, you will not be able to enroll until the next Open Enrollment Period unless you have a Qualifying Life Event before then.

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If you have not yet enrolled in a health care plan for 2017, or if you were re-enrolled in your original plan, take time to review your options and secure necessary coverage while you can.

Wondering if you should enroll in health insurance? Keep in mind that health insurance can provide cost assistance for individuals and families in many common medical situations. Additionally, health insurance can cover preventive services such as cancer screenings and routine immunizations.

Convinced you need health insurance but need help choosing a plan or enrolling in a plan? There are licensed agents who can discuss your options and offer advice.

Be sure to enroll today to protect you and your family with health coverage in 2017!

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Re-enroll in health coverage before the deadline

by Brooke Jarchow

January 31 is just around the corner, which means the deadline for securing health insurance for 2017 is approaching quickly. If you miss the final deadline, you won’t be able to enroll in health insurance until the next Open Enrollment Period, unless you have a Qualifying Life Event before that time.deadline

To secure coverage in 2017, take time to review all of your health care coverage options so you can find a plan that is best for you and your family. Keep in mind that if you were previously enrolled in a 2016 Marketplace health plan and did not choose a new plan, you will likely be automatically re-enrolled in your original plan. While this may seem like the hassle-free way to secure coverage, plans can change and you could end up saving more by evaluating your options and making changes if necessary.

Do you need help choosing a plan or enrolling in health insurance? If you need assistance, there are licensed agents who can help you pick a plan and enroll.

While the future of Obamacare remains uncertain, the law has not officially been repealed or changed yet, so it’s important to make sure you secure coverage for January, 31 2017.

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Obamacare and mental health coverage share an uncertain future

by Brooke Jarchow

Tomorrow, President-elect Donald Trump will take office as the next President of the United States. The President-elect made a list of promises for his first 100 days in office, including a promise to “immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare“. Despite revealing few details of a replacement plan so far, Trump has also promised that there will be “insurance for everybody.”

However, if Obamacare is fully repealed, 20 million currently-covered people could be left uninsured or paying more for insurance, including those with pre-existing conditions. Among the most common pre-existing conditions is mental illness, currently impacting one in five Americans.

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Let’s take a look back at mental health coverage in America. In 2014, Obamacare provided the largest expansion of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation. A provision of the health law requires health insurance plans to cover necessary services for those with mental illness. Obamacare also requires health insurance plans to provide preventive services such as cost-free depression screenings.

In the United States, over 30 percent of the population is affected by anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, OCD, PTSD, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, and more. Anxiety disorders also affect one in eight children, and research shows that if untreated, children with anxiety are more likely to perform poorly in school and engage in substance abuse.

Anxiety can severely impact quality of life for children and adults. Studies show that many young adults in college suffer from anxiety disorders related to stress. The most recent Senate vote attempted to deny those who are age 26 and under from staying on their parent’s health plan, a current provision of Obamacare. This could potentially lead to untreated and undiagnosed mental illnesses in young adults.

If left untreated or undiagnosed, mental illnesses can lead to other chronic illnesses, job and relationship instability, homelessness, incarceration, and violence. Should Trump and the Republicans succeed in repealing Obamacare, those with mental illness could face dangerous repercussions. During his campaign, Trump emphasized that the United States needs to focus on the “massive problem” of mental health, but in order to improve mental health, those suffering from or prone to mental illnesses will need access to coverage and care.

While the Senate’s votes to repeal certain aspects of the health law that would affect mental health coverage are not yet final, this is a reminder that Trump and the Republicans are standing by their promises. The future of mental health care for millions in America remains uncertain until a replacement plan is put in place.

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