Fall is a time for back to school, state fairs, “leaf-peepers,” and thinking about your healthcare insurance. Open Enrollment season, as we call it in the business, begins November 1 and lasts through January 15, 2022. This season brings some positive changes in health insurance including changes in Health Options’ plans.
First, all health insurance carriers in the individual/family marketplace will offer Clear Choice plans to bring more transparency to the buying process. These plans are designed to make it easier for Maine people to compare options across health insurance carriers. Clear Choice plans have a standard cost-sharing design, meaning they have the same deductible, co-pays, and co-insurance for medical services across all health insurance carriers in the state. All Health Options’ Clear Choice plans are designated with “CC” in the plan name. It is important to note there may be some differences between carriers in clear choice plans, so you will want to look beyond the cost-sharing. For example, Health Options offers a chronic illness support plan to reduce the cost of care for Members with asthma, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and hypertension in many clear choice plans, and other carriers do not have this exact benefit.
Also, for 2022, Health Options is pleased to add a tiered provider network to some of our individual/family HMO plans. In our tiered plans, primary care providers, imaging, labs, and out-patient hospital services are categorized by a preferred or standard tier. The preferred tier offers high quality, lower cost-share providers and service options. Plan Members are easily directed to preferred tier providers and locations when completing a provider search. Tiered plan Members can continue receiving services from a standard tier provider with a standard co-pay.
In another change to our provider network selections, we offer several plans that include national in-network coverage through First Health®. These plans are ideal for individuals and families who spend time outside the New England region and need reliable coverage both at home and on the road. Other plan enhancements include $0 cost for urgent care telehealth on non-HSA plans through our partnership with Amwell®. Health Options will also be offering Maine’s only Platinum health plan in the individual/family marketplace, which has the lowest deductible and cost-share across plans and offers co-pays with no deductible for in-network primary care, specialists, behavioral health visits, and urgent care facilities.
Finally, there are some legislative changes affecting health insurance in Maine. If you’ve used Healthcare.gov to learn about tax credits and other cost reductions, you will now be using CoverME.gov, Maine’s new online Health Insurance Marketplace. CoverME.gov is operated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. With the American Rescue Plan enacted earlier this year by the Biden Administration, more Mainers than ever are now eligible for advance premium tax credits (APTC) to help pay for coverage. Be sure to visit our storefront (healthoptions.org) to check your eligibility for tax credits and go to CoverME.gov after November 1, 2021, to January 15, 2022, to apply for the APTC and/or for cost-sharing reduction credits.
While these changes are all good news, we know how hard it can be to navigate health insurance decisions. As always, we are here for you. Our Member Services team can address any questions you have regarding your 2022 healthcare coverage. If you need help selecting a plan, go to healthoptions.org or call Member Services at (855) 624-6463, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can also reach out to your trusted broker.
Were you unemployed at any time in 2021? If so, we have good news about health insurance coverage. If you are currently enrolled in Marketplace health insurance and received 2021 unemployment income, you are encouraged to update your Marketplace applications between July 1 and August 15 to maximize savings on coverage for the rest of the year. This opportunity also opens a pathway for many people who are not current Marketplace consumers to obtain affordable, comprehensive health coverage.
Eligibility is Easier than You Think
We encourage you to visit our website at healthoptions.org to obtain a summary of your Marketplace eligibility for financial assistance in the form of a premium tax credit. Simply click on "Find a plan," select “Shop as an individual or family," and answer a few basic questions. Be sure to use the "Check my eligibility" button at the bottom of the first page before you leave.
I am eligible for a tax credit; what should I do?
If you are eligible for a tax credit, contact the Marketplace by calling (800) 318-2596 or visiting healthcare.gov.
If calling, have your current plan name ready and choose "Apply and report changes" from the phone menu. Let the representative know you are calling to take advantage of a premium tax credit. You will be asked a few questions, and your application will be updated.
If you are calling and do not have a Marketplace account, the representative will create an account for you.
If you are updating online as a returning visitor to healthcare.gov, click on the tab "Update/change plans to save." Review your application (even if there are no changes) to see your updated tax credit and reselect your current plan. By reselecting your plan, you will confirm the updated tax credit amount. Please note, any plan changes or premium reductions may not be reflected in your invoice until the month after your revisions have been made at the Marketplace.
If you are a new visitor to healthcare.gov, click on the tab "Take the First Step to Apply," and answer the enrollment questions to find a plan that fits your needs.
Although healthcare.gov determines eligibility for a Marketplace plan and premium tax credits, we are here to help answer any questions you may have about our Marketplace plans. Please contact us at (855) 624-6463, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Act fast! August 15 will be here before we know it.