2020 Open Enrollment is Around the Corner!

The 2020 Open Enrollment period is around the corner and we wanted to ensure that you began to prepare for this season.  Starting November 1st, we'll be able to examine new plan options and have a chance to change health plans.
While the carriers have not announced all their changes we do have a few key pieces of information we'd like to share.

Higher Out of Pocket Limits
As we've come to expect we will see another increase in the Maximum Out of Pocket (MOOP) to $8,150 per person.  The family MOOP will also increase to $16,300.

Premium Reductions?
We've heard that most carriers will leave rates unchanged for once.  We've also heard that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas may lower their rates by 2% to 4% in 2020.  While I'll take any reduction in pricing, it simply underscores that they've been priced too high for 2019 and that truly doesn't matter as Blue Cross' hospital network in the Houston area continues to be terrible with St. Luke's as the only major hospital group in the network.  Until BCBSTX adds Memorial Hermann or Methodist to their network it is scary to consider using them.

Small Group Changes Coming In Several Years
I've also heard a disturbing rumor that several of the carriers that cater to small employers (less than 50 employees) desire to completely remove the PPO option from their offerings.  The loss of this carrier in the small group space would be devastating for healthcare access.  I'm upset to contemplate the implications of this on our smaller clients.  Even hearing this rumor disappoints me yet doesn't shock me.  These companies desire to reduce cost at the expense of patient satisfaction.  I won't share the names of the firms that are planning for this move, but clearly this will be a terrible step in the wrong direction.  Once again the ACA continues to negatively impact patient care and choice. 

No New Entrants in 2020 in the Houston, Texas market for individuals.
Once again we'll deal with the slate of options we've had in the individual health insurance market.  In our Houston area we'll still be relying on Blue Cross Blue Shield, Community Health Choice, Molina, and Ambetter (the last two are on the Marketplace).  We'll continue to have only HMO options for 2020.

Be Wary of Alternative Health Insurance Options
In an environment where health insurance is unaffordable, (thanks Affordable Care Act!), shoppers will search or any alternative or option that sounds better than the terrible choices ON EXCHANGE or OFF EXCHANGE in the individual market.  If you search hard enough you will find scammers and bad agents that will offer you discount plans and alternative plans that seem like good deals or simply are just more affordable.  It sounds odd, but the ACA has forced us as shoppers right into the arms of dishonest salespeople that show scam products.  If a plan seems too good to be true, it is!  If you ask your agent if the product is "health insurance" and they reply with it is a "PPO" you need to be on alert.  Just because a plan has a PPO network does not mean that it is health insurance.  Jenny Deam with the Houston Chronicle highlights a product that cost people lots of money and didn't pay claims in her recent July 2nd article, Buyer Beware.  There are some interesting alternative plans available, but you must really dig into the plan exclusions, limitations, and guidelines.  These options are not for most people.  Just because a plan is cheap doesn't mean it is good.  In fact, if it is cheap, it probably means it won't pay!  You must use every ounce of skepticism you have when looking at these other choices.

Contact Us Today
As you prepare for to begin your Open Enrollment search please reach out to us today!  We'd love to include you in our database and send you free, no obligation quotes during Open Enrollment.  We'd love to help you examine your choices, help you evaluate the best plan based on the way you use health insurance and your budget.  We'll help you look at a couple of the alternatives that we believe that might be viable.  If you own a small business, we'd love the opportunity to help you evaluate your benefit plan and provide you access to more affordable options.  Call us today at 713-422-2935 or simply click CONTACT US to get started.