Source: NJ.com Health
Consumers who buy their health insurance through the federal marketplace will have more choices next year, as a fourth company will begin selling policies in New Jersey.
UnitedHealthcare, which currently sells policies in a dozen other states through the Healthcare.gov website, has applied to sell plans to New Jersey residents as well, a spokeswoman said.
Insurers were required to submit their new rates to state regulators yesterday. However, it will be impossible for now to tell if rates here for next year are going up or down, as they will not be made public until the fall, according to a spokesman for the N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Health Republic of New Jersey and AmeriHealth all indicated they would continue to participate in the marketplace through which consumers can get federal subsidies.
The new rates will be for policies that take effect in 2015. The open enrollment period to purchase them begins Nov. 15. All four companies declined to provide any specific prices included in their rate filings.
In the intervening months, the department’s role will be limited to reviewing a company’s underlying calculations to make sure they aren’t wildly unrealistic, said Ray Castro, senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective.
If a company sets its rates too low, it could lose money on the policies. If it sets rates too high, it could run afoul of the state rule that a company must use at least 80 percent of its policy revenue to pay claims.
But the public can’t provide any input to that review, as they can in other states…“The lack of transparency is a concern,” Castro said. In many other states, health insurance rate filings are made public upon filing…
Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced earlier this week that people who purchased health insurance through Healthcare.gov will not have to re-enroll for 2015. Instead, their policies will automatically renew.
Those whose incomes have changed significantly may want to consider re-enrolling so their subsidy is adjusted. That subsidy is actually the monthly advancement of a tax credit, so if they receive too much, it will be taken out of any future tax refund. If their income is expected to drop next year, reporting that change in circumstances to Healthcare.gov could boost their subsidy for next year.
They can also go onto the website again if they want to switch policies. The enrollment period for 2015 will last half as long as it did for the initial rollout of Obamacare. It will be just three months, ending Feb. 15.
And the penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 increases to 2 percent of income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, whichever is more.