Deadlines approaching for 2023 health insurance decisions

Monitor staff
Published: 11/30/2022 5:43:04 PM

Some big cost savings are coming for seniors on Medicare next year, including caps on the cost of insulin, but such changes underline the importance of preparing for deadlines on choosing health insurance even for people who aren’t on the program for seniors.

Open enrollment, the ability for people to choose a health insurance plan for 2023 under the Affordable Care Act, extends through Jan. 15, there’s an earlier deadline to keep in mind.

“The Dec. 15 deadline is critical for those people who have current plans in place because your plan will reset Dec 15. Whatever you have in place then, that’s what is coming Jan. 1,” said Keith Ballingall of Health Market Connect, a federally funded health insurance navigator in Concord, during a webinar Wednesday about changes in the health care market.

“Taking a review of your plan before Dec. 15 is so important,” he said. Among the issues: “Some of the plan names have changed, so you might think you’re going into a different plan but it might be the same one.”

The Inflation Reduction Act passed this year by Congress and signed by President Biden will provide a number of financial benefits for seniors on Medicare, the seminar noted. Many vaccines, including those for shingles, a common disease in seniors, and pneumonia will be free next year. Also, nobody on Medicare will pay more than $35 a month for insulin.

The bill gives Medicare the ability to negotiate prices of many drugs in later years, and caps out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year beginning in 2025.

This benefit won’t apply to people buying commercial health insurance unless further changes are made, although that seems unlikely at the federal level at this time.

“We’re hoping states will push for that to be translated onto commercial operations,” said Lucy Hodder, Professor of Law at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law and director of its Health Law and Policy Programs. “We’ll see if states pick up where the feds left off.”

Another change in ACA next year is the end of the so-called “family glitch.” Formerly, people with a family member who received health insurance through their job could not get a federally subsidized Affordable Care Act Marketplace plan. Now they can, although within some limits.

Individuals can enroll in a plan through the federal government’s website, Two navigators, First Choice Services and Health Market Connect, have people available to give advice or do research to help make a decision. Navigators cannot recommend a specific plan.

Programs are offered next year through the federal marketplace by Ambetter, Harvard Pilgrim and Matthew Thornton/Anthem. Premiums increased an average of 4.8% this year, although the increase varies between companies and levels of insurance that are bought.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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