TAHU Releases "Checklist for Coverage" to Assist Consumers in Making Health Plan Choices for Year Two of Affordable Care Act


AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With the enrollment period for year two of the Affordable Care Act set to open in three days, the state's leading health insurance agent association is releasing its "Checklist for Coverage" to help individuals and employers process the information that should be weighed in making coverage and renewal decisions.

Jacqueline St. Hilaire, president of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU), said that utilizing the assistance of a professional benefits adviser (health insurance agent) can provide peace of mind and ensure that key factors are considered in making health coverage choices, all at no cost to the individual.

"What we saw in year one was that many individuals were a bit overwhelmed with the questions they faced in making the best choices for coverage. Many defaulted to the least expensive plan, which may not be the best choice for coverage or overall cost for the health care that someone needs," said St. Hilaire.

A survey by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) confirms an increase in coverage through high-deductible plans that offer lower premiums. A report by AHIP indicates the number of individuals covered by high-deductible health plans rose from 13.5 million in 2012 to 17.4 million in 2014. According to the Kaiser Foundation, the average deductible doubled between 2007 and 2014 from $616 to $1,217. Many consumers are initially attracted to the higher-deductible plans because of the lower premiums, only to discover after the fact that the reduced upfront costs result in significantly higher out-of-pocket costs.

St. Hilaire added, "There's really no reason to do this alone, given the importance of this purchase, when you have free support available from insurance experts in your community."

The open enrollment period for year two of the new law will run from November 15, 2014, through February 15, 2015. New and returning customers who take action by December 15, 2014, will have their coverage choices take effect on January 1, 2015. Existing customers who do not take action by December 15 will be automatically re-enrolled with their current coverage, taking effect on January 1, 2015. Effective dates for coverage selections made after December 15, 2014, will be based on the agreements contained in the health policy they select.

Once the open enrollment period ends, consumers will only be allowed to enroll or change coverage if they experience a "qualifying event" such as loss of coverage, marriage, divorce, birth of a child or a move to a new area. Without a qualifying event, an individual will need to wait until the open enrollment process for 2016 begins on October 15, 2015.

To aid consumers in making their choices, TAHU has released its three-point checklist used by agents in guiding individuals, families and employers through the enrollment process. The checklist…Click here to download the full press release.

SOURCE Texas Association of Health Underwriters