Health

Open enrollment begins today, which means it’s the first day Kentuckians can sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act for 2018. Plans can be purchased at Healthcare.gov. And according to some experts, for about 80 percent of Kentuckians who buy a plan on the individual market, their prices could actually go down.

Yet there’s still some confusion about whether Healthcare.gov is operating and whether premiums have gone up, said Melissa Mathers, director of communications at Family Health Centers in Louisville. That could be because of the many attempts this summer by Republicans in Congress and President Trump to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Even though their repeal efforts have failed, Trump and Republicans have continued to say that the ACA markets are failing, and that premiums have risen.

“There’s a lot of confusion because of all the activity over the summer trying to repeal and replace, and the big question is whether the ACA is still around and if I can afford my insurance anymore,” Mathers said.

Healthcare.gov is still up and running and the ACA is still law. And for many Kentuckians, insurance will be cheaper, according to Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health. She said 80 percent of Kentuckians who buy insurance on Healthcare.gov will qualify for financial help to pay for their premiums. In some cases, insurance plans that offer better benefits, like lower copays, may also charge lower monthly payments.

But, Beauregard adds, there’s a stark difference between those who qualify for financial help and those who earn too much and do not.

“For 20 percent of Kentuckians that make a little too much to qualify for a subsidy, they’ll see a rate increase,” Beauregard said.

For example, a 50-year-old in Louisville who qualifies for a subsidy – $48,240 a year for a single person – would pay $67 a month, at most, for a bronze level plan. But for someone earning over that limit, the cost shoots up to almost $400 a month for the same plan. Louisville Metro government has list of Healthcare.gov 2018 sample rates here.

Other things to know:

  • There are four levels of insurance plans. Bronze plans pay 60 percent of covered medical expenses on average; silver plans pay 70 percent of medical costs; gold plans pays 80 percent; and platinum plans pay 90 percent.
  • There are limited insurance company options this year. Anthem remains in about half of Kentucky counties, while CareFirst is in the other half.
  • If you purchased a plan on Healthcare.gov last year, you’ll be automatically re-enrolled. However, double check what plan you have, as there could be a cheaper and better plan that you can enroll in.
  • The enrollment period ends Dec. 15, 2017. Open enrollment is a couple weeks shorter than previous years, so make sure you enroll before the deadline. You could possibly be permitted to enroll after this date, but only in some cases like moving, and divorce.
  • If your current plan is going away, you get more time. If you enrolled in a plan that will not be available next year, you’ll have until March 1, 2018 to enroll in a new plan.
Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.