When to get a new plan under Obamacare?
March 30, 2010 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Should I switch health insurance providers now, or wait, given Obamacare?

I want to switch to an insurance provider that has better customer satisfaction ratings and a lower number of complaints in our state's Department of Insurance, and I'm trying to figure out whether to do that now or wait in a few months.

I know that a lot of the provisions in Obamacare only affect "new plans." When does "new" start? Is that in September? Or is that effective now?

I had a meeting with an insurance agent the day after Obamacare was signed, and their system wasn't updated with certain provisions like the no-lifetime max. That's understandable.

I also can lock in my premiums too, but I don't know the interaction with that and the law. For example, if I lock in my rate, but I have a lifetime max, and then the insurance provider has to change all "new" plans to remove any lifetime maxes, will my premium stay the same?

I'm so confused. My gut tells me to wait 6 mos. to a year, to just let the policies work their way through system a little first, before trying to do something fancy like switch insurance providers.
posted by philosophistry to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You live in Texas, correct? That will make some difference.
posted by alms at 10:19 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm not sure anyone can know the answer to this, given 1) the complexity of the law, 2) the differences in health insurance across state lines, and 3) the lack of details in your post.*

But I don't think it's all that likely that you're going to see a huge difference in either coverage or premium if you wait six months unless you aren't able to procure affordable coverage right now. Premiums will probably go down for some people, but they may well go up for others, and it's impossible to predict which of those you'll fall into.

If you're happy with your current insurer, stay. If you aren't, switch. There's no real reason you can't switch again in six or nine months once the effects of this new law become more apparent.

*And the kind of details we need are the kind you shouldn't share on the internet.
posted by valkyryn at 10:24 AM on March 30, 2010

Response by poster: I live in Texas. I think this is a case of answering my own question as I'm writing it. I asked myself, what's the primary thing on my mind? The fact that I hate my doctor in my current network, and that I fear my current insurance provider. Waiting won't change those facts, so I'm probably going to switch now, screw it.
posted by philosophistry at 10:29 AM on March 30, 2010

If you're switching be sure to call around to various doctors in the new network (before you commit) to see who is accepting new patients under that insurance company. The shortage of primary care doctors will be one of the first major changes we notice, so make sure you have someone willing to add you as a new patient.
posted by texas_blissful at 10:39 AM on March 30, 2010

According to the summaries put out on the House Speaker's website, the various "immediate" reforms for the private insurance market actually don't take effect for 6 months. Those include:

*No discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions
*No recission
*No lifetime cap on benefits
*Limits on the annual caps for specific benefits
*Free preventative care (only for stuff meeting evidence-based guidelines, though)

I don't see anything that implies these reforms would only apply to new policies--I don't think that's the case, although I'm not confident enough to say that for sure. I think whether or not you change carriers you'll be protected, starting in September.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2010

"Lock in my premiums" how?

Mine get changed every year regardless. 15% a year or so, without accounting for the jumps when you switch age ranges.
posted by GregorWill at 12:40 PM on March 30, 2010

Response by poster: @GregorWill

For like 8% more, I can lock-in my premium for 3-years. Since inflation is 4%/year on avg., that seems like a good deal.
posted by philosophistry at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2010

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