Let’s take you through the steps you’ll need in order to enroll in a Houston health insurance policy for 2018.

Open enrollment is about to begin for plan year 2018 and you’ll need to know a few things to get started.

First and foremost, the enrollment season this year will only last from November 1st-December 15th, 2017. If you want to make a switch to a new health insurance policy for next year or if this is your first time to purchase a Houston health insurance policy, this is the time.

Secondly, in the Greater Houston area, there will be four choices of health insurance carriers for 2018. These include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Molina Healthcare, amBetter by Superior Health and Community Health Choice. amBetter is a new health insurance carrier in the Greater Houston area for 2018.

Which one will be the most competitive carrier? We won’t have the new health insurance rates and plan designs until the last week of October, but if history is any guide, this should be the order of most to least competitive.

  • amBetter by Celtic
  • Community Health Choice
  • Molina Healthcare
  • BCBS of Texas

As far as the networks are concerned, all health insurance policies for individuals will be HMOs this coming year. Unfortunately, no PPOs will be available unless you form a small group health insurance policy through your business.

All four health insurance carriers mentioned above will be available both on and off the Marketplace. Remember, if you will not qualify for a federal subsidy, then there is no reason to buy a plan on the Marketplace. If we keep you off the exchange and just go direct to the insurance carrier, the rates and plan designs will be identical, but we keep the government out of your business.

If for some reason you miss open enrollment, you will need to have a special enrollment provision (SEP) in order to apply after December 15th. These SEPs include moving to a new address, a new marriage, divorce, giving birth or adopting a baby and even release from prison (because so many ex-cons call me as soon as they are released – obtaining health insurance is clearly the number one priority after getting out).

Here’s a pro-tip! In order to keep your Houston health insurance agent from going insane, please remember to place your monthly premiums on auto-draft or to automatically charge your debit or credit card. If the health insurance policy lapses due to non-payment, the government will not allow you to buy another ACA compliant plan until next year. Unfortunately, this will result in the shared responsibility payment penalty of 2.5% of your household income prorated for the amount of time you were not covered under a proper ACA compliant health insurance plan. I can place you on a short term medical policy, but this will not get you out of the penalty.

As we gear up for open enrollment, remember to call us at 866.270.6209 for all your health insurance needs come November. We specialize in both small group health and individual health insurance as well as short term medical policies.