Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Monday Is Deadline for Health Plans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Monday Is Deadline for Health Plans

Article excerpt

Monday is the deadline to renew or pick a new health plan on the Healthcare.gov marketplace website in order to have coverage on Jan. 1, and officials are touting the options.

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report last week found that more than 70 percent of those currently enrolled in a marketplace plan will be able to find a lower-cost plan at the same level, before tax credits, by shopping around.

For example, the report says someone in the mid-level silver plan can save $41 a month, or $492 a year, if they look for a better deal. A 27-year-old Pittsburgh resident signing up for the second- lowest-cost silver plan will have an average monthly premium of $141 before tax credits in 2015, up from $139 this year, if they choose to stay with the same plan and not shop around.

Neil Deegan, state director for the nonprofit Enroll America, said people should look at their options as the number of plans locally has grown from 35 this year to 58 in 2015, with insurers UPMC, Highmark, United Healthcare, Assurant Health and Coventry/ HealthAmerica all offering plans.

"When there are more options, there tends to be better price competition," said Mr. Deegan, who has been spearheading efforts to find uninsured Pennsylvanians and get them signed up. Even if enrollees are happy with their current plan, he added, "There's a good chance there's a better price or a better fit."

Mr. Deegan will be part of a public briefing on Affordable Care enrollment at 10:30 a.m. today at the Downtown YWCA on Wood Street. The event, open to the public, also will include Bess Evans, associate director of public engagement for the White House, and Magdeline Jensen, CEO of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh.

Missing Monday's deadline means a person's current plan will automatically be renewed until at least Feb. 1. After Feb. 15, no changes can be made until the next enrollment period in fall 2015 except if a family has a life-changing event such as a death, job loss or divorce.

On Wednesday, federal officials reported more than 1.3 million consumers had selected plans so far, with the numbers doubling since Thanksgiving week. …

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