Open enrollment for health insurance has kicked off and Central Texans are seeing some major differences both in pricing and in options. Experts are telling people to expect sticker shock.
Open Enrollment started November 1st. Last week, the White House announced that the average person would see a 25 percent cost increase for their plans.
In Central Texas, Scott & White announced they would be dropping their Obamacare offerings. Another large carrier in the region, Blue Cross, Blue Shield announced an increase in October.
Bill Hughes has been in health insurance for over 30 years. He's opened an enrollment center in Waco and is advising people to brace themselves. Hughes predicted, "We're going to have a lot of market disruption with the changes this year."
Hughes describes the marketplace as having fewer options and higher costs. Last year, Scott & White offered 9 PPO options and 11 HMO options but this year, they are down to only one of each. Hughes said that there are options but it will take creativity.
"[People should] consider other options that may help them be exempt from the penalty. There are faith-based cost sharing plans that may work for some people and those can sometimes be very inexpensive if you fit for that type of plan," Hughes said.
Hughes said people should look at what subsidies they qualify for and make sure they know which plans work best to cover their needs
Kem Wardlaw says she's been helping families find as many coverage options as they can in one easy step online. Wardlaw describes finding the coverage you need and the coverage you can afford as a balancing act.
"You really need to shop into them and you really need to look at the benefits when you go to the plan. Look at the benefits that are offered with each plan, look and see what the prescription drug coverage is, make sure you check to see what that you have a doctor you like and a hospital that you like," Wardlaw said.
Wardlaw meets with families but also encourages those with questions to use her website. There, families can compare costs and send in the applications in one place.
Those looking for coverage are encouraged to start now. The deadline for open enrollment is January 31st.
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