Looking for 2019 plan options and rates? Head on over to our 2019 Guide for the latest.
When the individual marketplace launched in 2014, Arizona had some of the lowest insurance rates in the nation coupled with competition from multiple insurers. But insurers underpriced their plans and saw big losses, leading all but Blue Cross and Health Net to leave the state by this year and premiums to skyrocket. Nationwide, shoppers will see premium increases around 34% from 2017 to 2018. Arizonans will fare much better than their fellow Americans, as premium increases in Arizona are expected to be around 2% or less for marketplace plans for 2018. This is good news for the nearly 200,000 Arizonans enrolling in individual health insurance through the marketplace. Here's what you need to know about finding the best health insurance in Arizona for this coming year.
Obamacare, Trumpcare...what you need to know for open enrollment
Since Trump took office in January, he has been promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). Congress has not been able to pass a piece of legislation that replaces the ACA so it is still the law of the land. Which means you still need to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty through your taxes. The penalty is calculated two ways: 2.5% of household income or per person fee ($695/ adult and $347.50. child). You pay whichever is higher!
What Trump has been able to do is reduce the open enrollment period by six weeks. The open enrollment season for 2018 coverage is Nov 1- Dec 15, 2017. He also reduced funding for the marketplace which means there will be less advertising and awareness campaigns about the shorter enrollment window this year. The government health insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, will also have planned shutdowns this year during open enrollment, making it difficult for consumers to research and purchase plans. The site will be down on Sundays from 12am-12pm (Except Dec 10) during open enrollment and overnight Nov. 1. Between the planned outages, reductions in advertising, and reduced open enrollment period experts are expecting fewer Americans to enroll in individual health insurance during this year.
Arizona On-Exchange Plans for 2018
Health Net of Arizona/ Ambetter
Status: (HMO) Pima and Maricopa counties
Available: On and off exchange
Healthnet/ Ambetter is the sole marketplace carrier for Pima and Maricopa counties and covers 95,000 Arizonans with individual plans. The average premium increase for Health Net is less than 2% for 2018, a huge relief to those who were faced with large premium increases in 2017.
For 2018 Ambetter will offer a Bronze plan in Maricopa County only. The Bronze plan has lower monthly premiums but higher out of pocket costs. Silver and Gold plans will be available throughout Pima and Maricopa counties. If you are eligible for a tax credit, purchasing an on-exchange plan is the only way to utilize it. Use TakeCommandHealth.com to estimate your tax credit, search for your doctors, and compare Ambetter to off-exchange options in your area.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Status: (HMO) covers 13 counties (excluding Pima and Maricopa counties)
Blue Cross remains committed to the individual insurance market in Arizona and plans to cover 13 rural counties and 45,000 Arizonans under the ACA plans. While most carriers planned rate increases for 2018, BCBS rates will drop 1% in 2018. These plans are available both on and off the exchange. About 90 percent of the people Blue Cross covers with its marketplace plans get tax credits to help offset their premiums. Rates vary by age, county, and coverage level, but a 40-year-old non-smoker living in Pinal County can get a benchmark silver plan for $577 a month before the tax credit.
We recommend using TakeCommandHealth.com to see if you qualify for a tax credit. If so, we'll automatically route your application through Healthcare.gov for you.
Arizona Off Exchange Plans for 2018
Cigna HealthCare of Arizona
Status: HMO only available off exchange
Cigna will offer HMO plans off- exchange this year in Arizona. The bad news is the average premium increase is approximately 62%! Since the Cigna plans are only available off exchange you will not be able to utilize any tax credits to reduce the cost of the plans.
Traditionally HMO’s are less expensive than PPO’s but the trade-off is you're limiting your doctor network and flexibility a bit. You can read more about PPOs vs HMOs here. This could be a great option though if you don't mind seeing Cigna's doctors (or if your doctor is already in the Cigna HMO network) and are looking to save on your monthly premiums.
Freedom Life Insurance Company of America
Status: PPO only available off exchange
Freedom Life Insurance Company of America will offer Bronze plans in Arizona for 2018. The plans are only available off-exchange during open enrollment. The average premium increase for 2018 is 40%. Because the plan is only available off-exchange you will not be able to utilize any tax credits to reduce your monthly premiums.
Status: PPO only available off-exchange (faith based)
Faith-based Medi-Share has a state-wide PPO network available in 2018 managed by PHCS (Private Healthcare Systems, now owned by Multiplan). It’s smaller than some of the PPO networks in the past, but it does provide flexibility to see your doctors and will cover out-of-network expenses as long as it meets Medi-Share’s faith-based guidelines. Medi-Share won’t be for everyone, but is a worthy option to consider if it fits your personal convictions and lifestyle. Make sure to check out our Medi-Share review and compare it to other major medical plans on our website before you enroll.
Next Steps: What's my best option?
Hunting down and comparing all of these options can feel overwhelming. However, at TakeCommandHealth.com we help you compare all of your options side-by-side including off-exchange plans, marketplace plans, and faith-based options. You can use our award-winning tools to search for your doctors, check your prescriptions, and even simulate conditions and health needs to make sure you get the most of for your money. A few other updates we'd like to tell you about:
- We've expanded the capabilities of our doctor search tool to search doctor networks from all of the plans above (no matter if the plan is off-exchange, on the marketplace, or faith-based).
- We've negotiated some pretty awesome deals for our members. Call a doctor 24/7 for $0, medical bill negotiation support, dental, vision, and pharmacy discounts, etc. These really help save money with some of the higher deductible plans.
- We're pretty confident we have the biggest, most complete line-up of plans in Arizona this year.
- We've put together a bigger support team ready to help you tackle any issue. You can get started by chatting with us on our website or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once Open Enrollment begins, you can visit our website and we'll walk you through your options. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your money and find the plan that really works for you and your family. Remember you have until Dec 15th to select a plan that starts Jan 1st, 2018.
If you want to see how this year's options compare to last year's, check out our 2017 guide.
I wrote this blog because I love helping people decode confusing insurance jargon and understand the fine print. I'm a licensed health insurance professional and specialize in simplifying health insurance for individuals and small businesses. My QSEHRA articles have been featured regularly on Accounting Today, Accounting Web, HRWeb, and other industry publications. I'm also a member of Take Command Health's client success team and a full-time mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!