Round 1: Signing up for TrumpCare

Round 1: Signing up for TrumpCare
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

More than twice as many people signed up on the first day of this year’s open enrollment period for individual health insurance policies on the Marketplace than last year. That’s after the Trump administration drastically cut the advertising and support budget. Looks like the word got out anyway.

Remember, the open enrollment period has been shortened to just 45 days – ending on December 15. I had no problems signing up this year. I could have completed the process in about 20 minutes but I wanted to spend a few days thinking about how my husband and I planned to use our health insurance in 2018. Hopefully others will follow our example.

sign-to-good-health-road-83363452We do not expect any major health care expenses.

After having major surgery in December 2016 and January 2017, along with all the follow-up visits, I’ve seen enough of hospitals. I even got my first colonoscopy in this year since I had already met my out-of-pocket limit. So we decided to choose a plan with the lowest premium, not necessarily the lowest out-of-pocket maximum.

We picked a plan that has fewer doctors in network.

This was a big change for us. We wanted to spend a few days mulling this over. We had always chosen a Blue Preferred plan because our local hospital and doctors were in that network. But next year we are opting for a Blue Advantage plan – most of our local providers do not belong to this network. Here is our rationale:

  • With our advanced premium tax credit (APTC), our monthly premiums would be $0. We’d have to spend over $5,000 on health care at these providers for this strategy not to pay off.
  • We did not have to use all of our APTC. Since we plan on making more money in 2018 than we did in 2016 (on which the APTC is based), we expect to have to pay back some of the APTC. By using less of the APTC, there is less to pay back.
  • We travel a lot, and we know some of the places we plan on travelling to in 2018 have providers in the Blue Advantage network.

For those who qualify, monthly subsidies have risen dramatically.

Because the Trump administration cut off cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, insurers raised monthly premiums on Silver plans to offset this. The Affordable Care Act requires the APTC (subsidies) to rise accordingly. Most who qualify for these subsidies will be able to find policies that have very low or $0 monthly premiums.

Those who make too much money to qualify for subsidies are the ones who will pay much higher premiums next year. Weren’t these the people the president promised to protect?