Health Alliance: One-year extension will raise premium by 21.8 percent

Health Alliance: One-year extension will raise premium by 21.8 percent

URBANA — Health Alliance Medical Plans says the one-year extension it is offering nearly 20,000 members facing individual health plan cancellations next year will come at a 21.8 percent premium increase.

Members who want to keep their current coverage — and that includes all non-Medicare policy holders on individual plans — won't need to do anything, said Jana Perry, the company's vice president of Medicare and individual services.

As long as individual members want to keep their current coverage, it will remain in effect for the additional year with the increase, she said.

The 2013 individual plans would have been canceled because they weren't compliant with terms of the Affordable Care Act health care reform law.

The one-year extension was made available late last month when Gov. Pat Quinn's administration decided to follow a recommendation of President Barack Obama and allow insurers to offer individual plan holders the option of keeping their current health plans for one additional year.

People opting to keep this year's coverage through next year should be aware their current health plans may not include all the benefits that plans must offer next year under the new law, Perry cautions.

Perry said Health Alliance had such an overwhelming response from its members wanting to keep their old plans, it moved all those members back to 2013 plans when the choice became available. So the only members who need to act now will be those who don't want to keep their current coverage.

Members will be getting a letter by the end of the week spelling out the details, she said.

Perry also said Health Alliance didn't want to terminate coverage outright for all those individual members last September, so the company tried to direct them to the closest new Health Alliance plan that would comply with the health care law's new standards.

The new plans, however, came with hefty price increases that reflect new taxes, fees and services coming with the new law. ACA-compliant plans, for example, must include 10 essential health benefits for everyone including maternity care, hospitalization, laboratory services, prescription drugs, ambulatory patient services, emergency services, prevention and wellness, mental and behavioral health, pediatric services and rehabilitative services.

Perry also urges anyone who might qualify for a tax subsidy for health coverage to check out health plan options on the federal website at http://www.healthcare.gov by Dec. 23, when enrollment must be completed for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014.

For those considering switching to new health plans next year, she advises looking carefully at plan benefits, provider networks and pharmacy formularies, all of which may be different.

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