WNCT breaks down winners and losers of 2018 health insurance

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Open enrollment for health insurance in 2018 officially begins November 1st, 2017 and wraps up on December 15th.

Many people who purchased private insurance in 2017 have already received letters about what they can expect out of their plan for the new year. Many, like Washington resident Beth Byrd, noticed her rates increased a lot.

“We don’t know where we’re going to go now, and it’s been keeping me up at night,” Byrd said. “We could lose everything we’ve worked so hard for.”

In the past, Byrd has had a grandfather plan through BlueCross BlueShield, helping her keep her costs down. But that plan was terminated for all customers by the company effective January 1, 2018.

“To continue to provide healthcare to everyone in North Carolina, they need to kick us off this policy,” Byrd said.

That means much higher rates for Byrd and her husband. Her monthly insurance rates increased more than $1,012, going from $913.99 to $1,926.14 each month.

In a statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC said:

“We understand people are frustrated that their grandfathered plan is discontinued, and we regret that we are at a point where we can no longer offer these plans to our loyal customers. It is important for those with grandfathered plans to know, that the plan described in their notification letter is not the plan they have to choose. Nor, with premium assistance available for qualifying customers, is the price in their letter necessarily the price they will have to pay.”

Cheryl Hallock, an ACA navigator with Access East, said only about 7 percent of the population has private insurance. Even fewer people have grandfather plans.

“That group over time had come down to 30,000 people and it’s not a large enough risk pool to make the insurance work,” she said.

Hallock said those who will see minimal increases, if any at all, in 2018 include the following:

  1. Those with insurance provided through an employer (less than 5% increase on average)
  2. Individuals making between $12,060 – $30,150
  3. Families of 2 making between $16,240 – $40,600
  4. Families of 3 making between $20,420 – $51,050
  5. Families of 4 making between $24,600 – $61,500

Those individuals and families who fall between those salary spreads may qualify for both lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket-rates.

This table to the left shows who could qualify for what discounts.

Those making high salaries, or those wishing to stick with private insurance, may see some of the highest rate increases for 2018.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance recommended a 14.1% average increase for those people with BlueCross BlueShield, which was then approved by the General Assembly.

“There’s some many factors that go into what’s computed as to what a rate increase would be,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R- Dist. 9), who is also a doctor.

Rep. Murphy said he understands some people are upset, and hopes Republicans and Democrats can come together to fix the broken healthcare system.

“Is it going to take a calamity to fix it? I sure hope not, but if people don’t step outside of their own little boundaries and look at the entire situation, I think it is what it will come to,” he said.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr issued the following statement:

“The recently announced premium increases make it clear, yet again, that Obamacare isn’t working. Our state has seen double digit premium increases each year since the enactment of this law, and I remain committed to providing North Carolinians with solutions designed to decrease premiums and increase plan choices.”

Those seeking help navigating the healthcare marketplace can visit Access East’s website here, or call them at 252-847-3027

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