More choices mean better health insurance prices

Published 6:00 pm Monday, October 28, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

This Friday, Nov. 1, marks the beginning of open enrollment for federal health care plans — the subsidized plans made available to the public through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Kentuckians on average have more choices in the health insurance marketplace this year than they did last year — almost half of Kentucky counties have more than one health insurance provider to choose from.

Regardless of whether you like the health insurance market created by the ACA, there’s no denying healthy competition is the most effective way of keeping prices fair and affordable. More choice in the market means there’s more pressure to keep prices lower.

That doesn’t mean the ACA marketplace should or shouldn’t exist, nor does it mean having multiple health insurance options is a magic bullet to fix America’s incredibly complex and insanely expensive health care problems. It simply means there’s a slightly better chance that heath insurance will be more affordable this year.

And in fact, one of the two major health insurance providers in the marketplace is lowering its premiums.

“Policies offered on the federal insurance exchange by Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky will be an average of 9.7% higher than last year,” Kentucky Health News reports. But, “Plans from CareSource Kentucky will average 4.5% less than this year.” And “CareSource is serving an expanded area, covering 83% of the state’s 120 counties.

CareSource is offering 12 individual plans and Anthem is offering 13 individual plans across multiple networks and service areas.

Here in Boyle County, we are among the 64 counties without a choice: Only CareSource offers plans here. Fortunately, our one choice is the provider that was approved for an average rate decrease.

People who need insurance through the marketplace — such as those without employer-provided insurance, Medicaid or Medicare — have about a month and a half to get enrolled.

“If you fail to enroll by Dec. 15, the only way to enroll in a federally subsidized health plan is during a special enrollment period,” according to KHN. “To qualify for special enrollment, you must have a qualifying life event such as a change in family status (for exmaple, marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child), change in residence or loss of other health coverage.”

If you plan to enroll, be careful about how you go about it. The best way is to visit directly. Watch out for many other websites out there that try to make themselves look official and even advertise in priority placements on search results so they appear higher than