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Report: Michigan's healthcare marketplace stable, better deals possible for 2019

Flickr user/Images Money

Michiganders could get a better deal on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but only if they enroll by the December 15th deadline.

The Center for Health and Research Transformation released its rate analysis for the 2019 health insurance marketplace. It shows rate increases are much lower this year than they have been in recent years. In some areas, rates have even gone down for certain plans. But customers who wait too long will be re-enrolled for the plan they had last year, and that might not be the best deal they can get.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with CHRT.  She says, "There have been a lot of changes in Michigan--favorable changes in terms of the choices that are available and the cost of coverage, so it's really important for consumers to select their plans now and do some good shopping."

According to Udow-Phillips, the marketplace has stabilized, but Michigan enrollment dropped by about thirty thousand people last year. A total of nine insurance companies are participating in Michigan's market for 2019, with one new company added this year. CHRT says that all of Michigan's counties have at least two insurance carriers participating.

Federal funding to help people enroll in health care has been cut by more than fifty percent since last year. The Navigator program was set up to help people enroll for coverage on Healthcare.gov. That service received $63 million in federal funds in 2017. For the 2018 open enrollment, funding was cut to $36.8 million, and for the current 2019 open enrollment period, federal Navigator funding was reduced again to $10 million. Udow-Phillips says some resources in communities are helping to fill that gap. 

Another federal policy change that is expected to affect enrollment numbers is the 2017 repeal of the individule mandate. That was a tax paid by people who did not purchase health insurance. Because there is no longer a tax penalty, the CHRT predicts that some individuals will not purchase health insurance for 2019, which could lead to future premium hikes for those who remain in the marketplace.

Catherine Shaffer joined Michigan Radio in 2014. She works in the newsroom and specializes in stories related to the life sciences, health, and technology. Catherine earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Master’s from University of Michigan. Prior to Michigan Radio, Catherine has worked as a freelance writer, mainly in focusing on biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, since 2001. She is also an award-winning fiction writer. When not at work, Catherine enjoys being in the outdoors and practicing yoga.