What to do if your health insurance policy is being canceled

Reports are circulating (like this one) that millions of Americans are losing their health insurance coverage.
Some of this is due to employers dropping coverage, but the majority seems to be individual health insurance policyholders being told their plans are being canceled and that they must re-enroll in an ACA-certified plan (that is, a plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”) beginning January 1.
Some insurance companies are allowing non-grandfathered policyholders to keep their plans until their 2014 renewal date, but others are discontinuing non-grandfathered plans.

So what can you do if your plan is being canceled? Here are 4 options:

1. Start a new ACA-qualified plan in 2014. You could simply buy a new Obamacare-compliant plan to replace your current coverage. Your existing insurance carrier may offer to transfer your coverage into one. The chief disadvantage here is that the new plans are almost certainly going to cost you more, and you may not find one that has the level of coverage you have currently.
Note: If you make between 100-400% of the federal poverty limit, you will qualify for a premium subsidy from the government. Of course, to get it, you’ll have to navigate the government-run health insurance exchange, which won’t be easy. (Depending on where you live, we can probably help).
2. Buy a new plan before 2014. If you don’t have any big issues with pre-existing conditions, you can probably save a LOT of money by buying a health insurance plan effective November 1 or December 1, 2013. There are some companies that will let you keep your 2013 plan and, more importantly, price, well into 2014 (or even until the end of 2014). Buying a new plan early will allow you lock in a lower premium for longer.

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3. Buy a short-term health insurance plan. Many people don’t even know these exist. A short-term health plan will provide catastrophic coverage for a period of time between 1-11 months. Because of the short duration, these plans are typically much cheaper than regular policies and involve much less underwriting. They aren’t fancy – but you can put a safety net in place at an affordable price while you wait on the government to get Obamacare sorted out.

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4. Drop health insurance. As you might expect, we don’t advise you take this route, and it may well get you fined by the federal government. But it is obviously an option. If you choose to go this route, we’d at least suggest you purchase an accident insurance plan (they are really cheap) or a limited benefit plan (not quite as cheap).

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Whatever you ultimately decide to do, it’s time to figure it out. The longer you wait, the fewer the options you’ll have available. We’re here to help and would be glad to talk to you about the specifics of your situation.

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