Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Health Insurance Exchange- My Experience

I wanted to post about my experience with because i recently left my last job with AC Entertainment and needed a less expensive health insurance option than COBRA.  If you've ever dealt with COBRA, you know how expensive and how big a pain it can be because your (former) employer is no longer subsidizing your premium or administering your insurance plan.  In fact, the employer subsidy is part of the reason why so many people have no idea how much their insurance actually costs.  But i digress.

So i went onto the exchange earlier this week hoping to find cheaper coverage options and to take advantage of federal subsidies.  I have to say that based on all of the negative reviews i had seen and heard about the exchanges, my expectations were sufficiently low.  To my surprise however, it was actually quite easy to use!  I basically followed the prompts from page to page and was able to knock out an application in pretty short order... in maybe 15-20 minutes give or take.

I did run into one fairly significant issue however...
and that was in dealing with the identification verification.  This was kind of a pain in the @ss and a bit frustrating to say the least.  I was told first that the system couldn't verify my identity and then was prompted to call Experian (yeah, i know, right?) to verify my identity using a provided reference #.  They were less than helpful.  I was told by the Experian rep that I needed to call the folks to try and figure this out.

So I gave them a call and needless to say they weren't very helpful either. They told me I would have to mail in my verification of ID and that they would get back to me within 7-10 days upon verification.  To say I was annoyed by this would have been an understatement.  The other option they presented was to go back online to my application and upload my ID instead.  This seemed like the better option even though I wasn't terribly thrilled with this idea either.

Back online, I was given the option of providing several forms of ID, but opted to use my Driver License.  I took a picture of my DL with my phone, uploaded the pic to my Dropbox, downloaded the pic to my desktop and then uploaded to the site.  This took approximately 5 minutes.  The site said it would notify me once my ID had been verified.  I was expecting this to take a couple of hours and ended up taking a couple of days, but definitely a lot less time than mailing it in would have taken.

ID verification in hand, I completed the application.  Upon completion I was informed I would qualify for a $140/month subsidy based on my projected income for the year.  I projected my income relatively low since I am again a small business owner.  I was then taken to a page to begin picking out a plan.  I was given the option of using all, part or none of my subsidy towards my premium.  I opted to use it all since I am uncertain how much money I'll make this year and need to keep my expenses as low as possible.  Please be aware that choosing this option comes with potential tax repercussions so please choose carefully for yourself.

I chose a "Silver" plan through United HealthCare which I thought fit me the best.  The yearly deductible is $3600 and the yearly out of pocket max is $5000 with primary care visits at a $20 copay and specialist visits at a $40 copay all in-network.  The best part is that I can visit the chiropractor 20 times each year for a $20 copay per visit.  Not too shabby!  Incidentally, chiro was not covered through my last employer-sponsored plan.  Unfortunately this plan will not be available after Dec. 31st however, as United has chosen to no longer participate in the exchanges after this year.  Needless to say a real bummer.  This will mean I'll have to select a different plan starting Jan. 1, 2017.

Now I'm sure you're wondering how much is my monthly premium and I don't mind sharing.  My premium is $150/month including my subsidy.  I could have chosen a much cheaper plan (as low as $92/month), but wanted to have the lower deductible and copays instead of coinsurance for doctor visits.  Additionally I also signed up for dental coverage which cost another $22.69/month.  Overall i'm paying about $60/month more than what I was paying for insurance at my last employer for relatively the same coverage if not in some ways better coverage.

The best part of the experience for me though was the sheer number of options I had available to me. I had a choice of 61 different health insurance plans.  Keep in mind most employers only offer 1-2 plan options so this was a real plus.

All in all I was pleased with my experience on the exchange.  It definitely is making my life easier as I transition back into being a small business owner.  Other than the relatively minor issue with the ID, i would rate my experience 4 Os out of 5.

Has anyone else been on the exchange?  Care to share your experiences in the comment section?  Thanks for visiting as always!


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