It’s a little early to tell just yet, but here are some likely outcomes.
There have been some big, behind the scenes changes recently from Washington DC that will affect your choices of health insurance in Texas in the coming months. In this article, we’ll discuss three changes you may see, but be patient; it will take time for the industry to catch up.
Option 1: As of the writing of this article, a temporary health insurance plan can last a maximum of three months, but that may soon change. Our President signed an executive order about 2 months ago that will extend these plans for up to one full year. Since the ACA is still technically in force, this would allow anyone on a short term medical policy to carry that coverage to open enrollment next season and hop onto an ACA compliant policy.
If you develop a serious medical condition or end up with a catastrophic injury while on the short term medical plan, you can generally not renew them once the coverage expires. However, if the policy can extend to the next season of open enrollment, you can join an Obamacare policy which has no pre-existing condition limitations and have continuous coverage throughout the illness.
Option 2: There has been a lot of talk about association plans, but what are they? These policies would allow the “self-employed” to either band together under a common theme (such as a Realtor Association) or to join and existing association that offers health insurance coverage to its members. It’s a little early yet to tell if these plans will allow for the coverage of pre-existing conditions and whether there will be medical underwriting, but odds are this is how the dice will roll out.
Our best guess is that these association medical policies will require some form of medical underwriting. If you have no pre-existing conditions, then you’ll qualify for a lower rate on the same than would someone was has, say, diabetes. Odds are that the diabetes treatment would be covered with no limitations, but you’ll just pay a higher monthly premium for your association policy.
One other prediction would that the Texas association health insurance plans would also allow you to pick and choose your benefits. One of the drawbacks with an Affordable Care Act policy is that you cannot take off coverages that you do not need. These plans require maternity, mental health and substance abuse coverage as well as coverage for all pre-existing conditions. The new association plans will more than likely allow you to build your own Texas health insurance policy. For example, if you are a single male with no pre-existing conditions, you could buy a plan with no maternity coverage and qualify for a far lower rate than you would have otherwise on an ACA compliant policy.
Option 3: Currently a Texas small group insurance policy is one of the more attractive options in the Marketplace, but the association plans could give them a run for their money. Since you would be able to build your own policy, similar to how health insurance was marketed in years past, the rates would likely be lower for some families depending on what coverages they wanted or needed.
As we stated earlier, it’s too early to tell how this will all play out, but 2018-2019 should bring some major changes to how we present and market our health insurance in Texas. Stay tuned!