While we do have a few more days for the health insurance carriers in Texas to announce their plan designs and rates for the upcoming season, we can be pretty sure that it’s already set as of the day of this article. As it stands now, it looks like there will be 4 health insurance companies to choose from in Greater Houston. We are gaining a new one and losing an old one.

Choice one: BCBS of Texas will be available, as always. This carrier is generally one of the more expensive choices, but they generally have the most providers in the area sans Texas Children’s and MD Anderson.

Choice Two: Community Health Choice was a new carrier available to individuals and families in our area last season and was the most popular choice from our clients. Community Health includes both St. Luke’s and Memorial Hermann hospital systems along with the majority of their primary care and specialists.

Choice Three: amBetter Health is a new carrier available to our clients for Houston individual health insurance policies this coming season.  St. Luke’s and their affiliated physicians is the main hospital system for this carrier.

Choice Four: Molina Healthcare returns once again, but this carrier has few area choices of providers and we have not been able to find many of our clients’ doctors within the network. Hopefully, this year, doctors will join this network and give you more choice.

The main point to consider for plan year 2018 is that all individual and family health insurance policies in Greater Houston will be using an HMO network. None of the four available carriers listed above will offer a PPO option. HMOs are not all bad and in fact, one carrier above, Community Health Choice, is the only Texas health insurance plan to my knowledge that allows you to see an in-network specialist without having to obtain a referral from your primary care physician. Yes, that’s a pain the ass especially if you are having mobility or like me, patience issues. I would not normally use that type of language on a public website, but let’s face it, most of you checked out a while ago unless you enjoy reading health insurance blogs for fun.  If that’s the case, you need a better hobby.

As you know by now from reading my blog, a small or large group health insurance plan through your business is the only way to have a PPO in Houston. Advantages to a Texas based small group plan include having nationwide access to the best providers in the U.S., being able to deduct 100% of the monthly premium and in Greater Houston specifically, having access to both MD Anderson Cancer Center along with Texas Children’s Hospital and its affiliates.

As we now approach the upcoming season of open enrollment, which lasts from November 1st-December 15th (only 45 days), make note of two things: A huge amount of FUN! and the dates of open enrollment. If you call us on the last day at 866.270.6209, don’t be surprised if we can’t get to you as the early bird gets the worm! Don’t be that guy.