A much tighter sign-up deadline and coverage delays will be waiting for some health insurance customers now that President Donald Trump’s administration has finished a plan designed to stabilize shaky insurance markets.
Shoppers will have a shorter time period to choose a 2018 plan and a harder time enrolling outside that window if they lose a job or have some other special circumstance that affects their coverage. Insurers also will have more flexibility to design lower-cost coverage under a set of changes announced Thursday for the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges.
The exchanges, accessed by customers through the federal HealthCare.gov or state-run sites, were established as a way for people to compare and shop for insurance coverage. But insurers have raised prices sharply or abandoned markets in many regions, leaving some customers with little choice. Companies are considering leaving more markets for next year because they say they are losing money. The administration as responded with a series of changes aimed at reducing the number of insurance company defections while it pursues a broader remake of the federal law.
These changes may help convince insurers to return to the market for next year, but they also could make shopping tougher for consumers in a few ways.
Customers will have 45 days to shop for 2018 coverage, starting Nov. 1 and ending Dec. 15. In previous years, they had twice that much time, and could still buy coverage until Jan. 31. The tighter time frame aims to prevent people from gaming the system by waiting until they become sick before signing up for coverage. Read full story here