Open enrollment for individual insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began Sunday, Nov. 1 for people who want to continue or start health coverage on Jan. 1, 2016. These individual policies are sold on the federal exchange and come with financial subsidies for people in middle-to-lower income brackets. In North Carolina, three insurers are offering policies on the federal exchange – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, UnitedHealthCare and Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas, which is owned by Aetna. Humana is joining the marketplace, although initially their plans will only be available in four counties in the Charlotte and Winston-Salem area.
Patients can go directly to the exchange site, to begin the enrollment process.  Access local resources here. This downloadable flyer also provides basic information for your patients about how to get started.
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell spoke to North Carolina journalists earlier this week on a conference call, noting that more than 90 percent of the 460,000 enrolled in North Carolina last year received federal subsidies, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Rates for the plans significantly increased this year. Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest insurer, was approved for a 32.5 percent average increase. It’s estimated that BCBS’s increases for individual plans on the exchange will range from 5 to 42 percent. UnitedHealthcare rate plans will increase between 2.5 and 50.3 percent and Coventry plans will increase on average 23.6 percent over last year.
Burwell said that the average rate increase from 2015 to 2016 in ACA plans is 7.6 percent. Nationwide, she said, 70 percent of people on the marketplace are finding plans that cost $75 a month or less, with federal subsidies.