“Obamacare” is a popular term used to describe the Affordable Care Act. As insurance advisors, one question customers frequently ask is “Do you offer anything other than Obamacare?” Understanding this question is most important before answering it.
First, Affordable Care Act compliant plans are not only health insurance plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace or “Exchange.” They are also health plans offered “Off Exchange” or directly through insurance companies, as long as they meet all requirements under the Affordable Care Act. In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers the vast majority of the ACA compliant health plans both on and off the Exchange. Blue Cross offers plans in all 100 counties and in 2017 was the only company offering “On Exchange” plans in 94 of the 100 North Carolina counties. When considering alternatives to ACA compliant plans, the most common is Short Term, also known as Temporary Health Insurance.
Temporary health insurance plans are not compliant with the ACA regulations which allows customers to enroll outside the Open Enrollment Period without the requirement of a Qualifying Life Event. In the past, these plans were created and structured to bridge gaps in coverage. However, recently their attraction has grown and individuals and families have begun enrolling in Short Term plans for extended policy periods as an alternative to the ACA compliant options. The ACA compliant plans lack the flexible plan structure and low premiums that are attractive aspects of Short Term health insurance. Short Term plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions which is a requirement under Obamacare. Additionally, you must answer health questions on a Short Term application in order to be eligible to enroll. For these reasons, the plans are usually significantly less expensive than ACA compliant plans. These factors and others drive the premium prices down and often surprise shoppers when making a price comparison.
Furthermore, the Short Term health insurance regulations are expected to change on April 1, 2017. The policy periods will be limited to 3 months. For applicants that enroll prior to April 1, the policy period can last until Dec. 31, 2017 with certain carriers like United HealthOne.
For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.