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Health insurance changes in Utah: Don’t feel stuck, take action

Health insurance can be personal — you use it to access healthcare, where you discuss personal concerns with your doctor. Or to get immunizations for your children. Or to get prescriptions or treatment you really need.

So you can imagine that many Utahns felt surprised when they received notice that they were losing health insurance coverage this year, or that they were being moved to another insurance carrier. What gives?

Uncertainty, high costs, and company restructuring are reasons given by the latest carrier to leave the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) in Utah. That leaves Utahns who need new a health insurance plan as of January 1, 2018, with two choices in the FFM: SelectHealth and the University of Utah.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wanted to protect consumers from losing health insurance coverage altogether, so they transitioned those losing coverage to a health plan with one of the two remaining carriers. The plans were chosen by considering where the member lives, the former plan’s metal tier, and the lowest premium. Carriers were given a list of the members who would be “cross-walked” to their plans and were expected to reach out to these consumers.

Those who lost coverage can choose to enroll in the plan they were assigned, or they can shop around to find a different one. And it’s a good idea to explore options — with increasing costs, consumers may prefer a plan with a lower premium and higher cost-sharing amount (for example, a higher deductible or out-of-pocket maximum) or simply a different metal tier, such as the new Expanded Bronze. Options in this new tier fall in between Silver and Bronze and could be a better balance for many consumers’ benefit and budget needs.

So what should you do if you’re affected by all this change in the market? Remember that you have options, and there are plenty of places to get help.

Here are a few ideas to get started: Attend an open enrollment fair, pick up the phone (call SelectHealth at 855-442-0220), contact your agent, visit selecthealth.org, or visit healthcare.gov to get started now. Assistance is also available through the Association for Utah Community Health and Take Care Utah.

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