MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 09/26/12 -- As the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance continues to rise and the final provisions of the Affordable Care Act loom on the horizon, eHealthInsurance (NASDAQ: EHTH), America's first and largest private health insurance exchange, today released its top consumer tips for this year's open enrollment season.
Open enrollment is the time of year when workers receiving health insurance and other benefits from their employers are asked to make personal coverage selections for the coming year. For many employers and employees, open enrollment for the 2013 calendar-year benefit period will occur between October and December 2012.
Increased Health Insurance Costs for 2013
According to a survey sponsored by the National Business Group on Health, employers estimate their health insurance costs will increase an additional 7% in 2013(1). As a result, some employers may stop providing employees with health insurance coverage, while others may pass on cost increases to employees in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, or coinsurance. Both employers and employees may be forced to look for creative health insurance solutions to maintain their coverage at a price they can afford. Some employees may even turn to the individually-purchased health insurance market.
The Impact of Health Reform on Open Enrollment this Year
This year's open enrollment period will be the last one before implementation of the final consumer-focused provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in January 2014. While the "individual mandate" and the guarantee of access to individually-purchased coverage will not take effect until January 1, 2014, health reform is nonetheless having an impact on this year's open enrollment period:
•During open enrollment this year, employees will be provided with new federally-mandated "Summary of Benefits and Coverage" forms for each health plan offered by their employers. The intent of these forms is to provide consumers with standardized, easy-to-understand descriptions of how their benefits work and what their out-of-pocket costs would be in various medical scenarios. •Employees should also note that the maximum amount of pre-tax dollars that can be saved for medical expenses in an employer-sponsored Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is being lowered to $2,500 in 2013(2).
With the above in mind, eHealthInsurance has prepared the following tips to help consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance navigate their choices during this year's open enrollment season:
Top 7 Health Insurance Tips for Open Enrollment Season
1. Pay attention to what you -- and your employer -- are paying: A 2011 survey sponsored by eHealthInsurance and conducted by Kelton Research found that fewer than half (47%) of employees could confidently say how much was taken from their own wages to pay for their health insurance premiums. Fewer than one-in-five (18%) could say how much their employers contributed toward their total premiums(3). Pay attention to your premium contributions and look out for increases in these costs compared to last year. In order to gauge the full cost of your employer health insurance plan, find out how much your employer pays toward premiums both for yourself and your dependents. Remember that if you are laid off and enroll in COBRA in 2013, you'll likely be required to pay the combined total of what is currently paid by both yourself and your employer in order to maintain your coverage.
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