For a lot of people, shopping for health insurance is a frustrating, confusing, or otherwise painful process that they would completely avoid if possible. That’s why it may be tempting to let your health insurance automatically renew next year, if you’re one of the lucky ones who are eligible for automatic re-enrollment.
But while automatic re-enrollment may help save a few people from a coverage gap, it’s generally a bad idea to rely on it in lieu of shopping for a new plan for next year.
Shopping will ensure that you’re still in the best plan for your needs - whether that’s a new plan or a new one. Also: shopping for health insurance isn’t nearly as painful as you think it is.
Keep reading for our top reasons you shouldn’t just let your 2016 health insurance plan renew into 2017.
1. Your plan isn’t being offered
One reason you shouldn't let your plan auto-renew is sort of out of your hands: You might not be able to because your plan isn’t being offered anymore.
Even if your carrier is still on the exchange (a lot of them have pulled out of states since the last open enrollment period), they may not be offering your specific plan. If you’re eligible for automatic re-enrollment, you may be signed up for the plan that most closely fits your old plan. But that new plan, as "close" as it may be to your old plan, is not the plan that you picked, and may not really fit your needs at all.
2. Prices are going up
As you’ve probably read or heard on TV, health insurance costs are estimated to rise by an average of 25% across the country. In some states, health insurance costs will increase even more dramatically.
Not every health insurance company is increasing the price of their plans by the same amount – some may be increasing prices by 25 or 35%, but others may only be increasing 10 or 15%. While it’s likely that you’ll pay more for health insurance in 2017 than you did in 2016, that doesn’t mean you have to go with whatever price increase your current carrier is imposing. Shop around to see if there’s another carrier with a plan that may better fit your needs and your budget.
3. Your needs may have changed
The plan that made sense in 2016 may not make as much sense in 2017. For example, let’s say you’ve recently been diagnosed with a chronic disease that requires you to regularly visit a doctor and requires a prescription. If your current plan has a high-deductible that forces you to pay a lot out of pocket before your health insurance kicks in, then it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for you now.
4. Your income may open up new options
You know how you can qualify for a health insurance premium subsidy if you make between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Line? Whether or not you qualify for a subsidy in 2017 is based on what you think you’ll earn in 2017; this may open up the option to purchase a more expensive health insurance plan, as you’ll be able to use a subsidy to offset much of the cost.
Health insurance subsidies may come into play for new parents, if, for example you or your spouse is no longer working or cutting back hours in order to take care of the baby.
5. Your plan was never right for you in the first place
Health insurance can get pretty confusing, and it doesn’t help that 96% of Americans don’t understand key health insurance terms. There’s a decent chance that the last time you shopped for a health insurance plan, you didn’t pick the best plan for your needs. While all health insurance plans are compromises – there is no "perfect" plan – you can optimize your health insurance plan for your specific priorities.
The best way to shop for a new health insurance plan
Sure, you can shop for health insurance on Healthcare.gov or your state marketplace, but did you know that you could be missing out on great off-exchange plans that could fit your needs better? Plus, while these government sites show you all of your on-exchange options, they do very little in terms of making sense of all the options and helping you select the best plan.
That’s why PolicyGenius built a health insurance app that puts your needs first. This online shopping experience shows you health insurance plans available in your state – even plans that aren’t available on Healthcare.gov – and organizes them according to what you prioritize. Want a plan that includes your current docs? PolicyGenius will show those plans first. Need a plan with a low deductible? Same deal. It’s the best way to shop for a health insurance plan for 2017.