Maricopa isn’t the only county seeing more choice in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges this year; Pima County residents have their choice from three health plans, an abundance compared to last year’s singular choice, Ambetter from Health Net.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) along with Bright Health will be joining the mix of plans offering 2019 plans on HealthCare.gov beginning this week on November 1, 2018. BCBSAZ is a longtime competitor in the Arizona health insurance market, so it will be interesting to see how newbie Bright Health fares in its Arizona ACA marketplace debut.
Pima County residents can also anticipate little to no change in ACA premiums, a relief after years of increases. Nearly 25,000 Pima County residents enrolled in ACA plans last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
In Pima County and across the state, consumers will also have more options for health insurance coverage if they qualify to enroll in an Association Health Plan (AHP) or want to purchase a short-term, limited duration policy.
AHPs can charge different rates based on gender, age and location and don’t have to include the ACA’s essential health benefits (EHBs), including prescription drugs and rehabilitation services. Short-term, limited duration health insurance also don’t have to cover ACA’s EHBs, use underwriting, and they’re not guaranteed renewable, meaning if you get sick while you’re insured don’t expect to be able to renew for a new term. The short-term plans also exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions and can impose lifetime and annual limits and are not subject to cost-sharing limits.
Because about 160,000 Arizona residents now receive coverage under an ACA health plan and more than 75 percent qualified for an advanced premium tax credit (the average APTC was $551 a month), HealthCare.gov continues to be an important sector in the health insurance market.
Open enrollment continues through December 15, 2018. ACA plans will start serving their members January 1, 2019.
Check out the Arizona Daily Star’s piece on the ACA marketplace in Southern Arizona.