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The first month of the 2015 Affordable Care Act open enrollment has come to a close in Chicago, and around the country. The last day to get coverage by January 1 was December 15th.


Here are some observations.  There are some different plan options and there are more carriers operating on the insurance exchanges (aka the marketplace) this year.  This does create more competition in many markets, however it also adds more confusion.


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois now has a co-pay bronze plan, and now one series of bronze is HSA qualified, while last year only one was qualified.  Assurant Health has entered the marketplace in many markets.  United Health Care has increased their presence on the marketplace, and added Cook County in Illinois.  Coventry seems to have a good product in Southern Illinois. In Ohio, In Health and Aetna have added a marketplace presence while Medical Mutual has changed their Silver plan to not included Co-pays, until, after their deductible.  The state of Georgia seems to have experienced significant rate increases.  I have some clients there whose rates increased by $100 per month. United Health Care has re-entered and has offered a PPO product in a State that has mostly HMO’s


We are also seeing more Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO).  These had basically disappeared from the individual market prior to the enactment of the ACA.  HMO’s require you to select a Primary Care Physician (PCP). If you need a specialist you need a referral from your PCP, before you can see that doctor.  The HMO’s generally will cost less than a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO).  The PPO does not require the use of a PCP or a referral to see a specialist.


The website or the site of the marketplace is working better than last year and the application process is quicker than last year, but with more choices and different plan options makes thing more confusing for many people.


Are you keeping up with all of this?  Find an experienced Health Insurance Broker.  Brokers, in most cases are paid a commission by the insurance carrier, so there is no cost to you.  A good broker will help you select the best plan for your needs, and help you understand your options. More importantly, it will save you a lot of time and possibly money at the time of claim.