Obamacare Q&A: CT exchange will let some automatically renew plans

Do I have to make any changes to my Obamacare health insurance for the next enrollment period?

The next open enrollment period for private insurance begins Nov. 15. At that point, people who buy coverage on their own will be able to select new plans for 2015 or renew the ones they have. People who didn’t buy insurance this year will also be able to get a plan for next year if they choose.

In Connecticut, Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, is developing a system to automatically renew coverage for some people who don’t want to make changes to their benefits.

People who qualify for automatic renewals will still be allowed to select different coverage for 2015 or make other changes. But if they take no action, their current coverage will be continued into next year.

People who don’t qualify for an automatic renewal will have their coverage terminated at the end of this year, unless they sign up for another plan.

How will you know if you qualify for automatic renewal?

Access Health plans to mail customers notices in early October and November, letting them know what they’re projected to be eligible for in 2015 and whether they’re eligible to have their coverage automatically renewed.

The notices will also let people know what they have to do to be covered in 2015. That could include doing nothing if they want to maintain their current coverage and are eligible for automatic renewal; reporting changes in their income or other circumstances; choosing a different plan; or choosing to not have their plan automatically renewed.

For people who received subsidies to discount their premiums this year, the notices will include the 2015 premiums and subsidy levels so they can figure out the monthly cost if they remain in the same plan.

Who is eligible for automatic renewal?

In general, Access Health will allow people to have their coverage automatically renewed if they remain eligible for the same type of coverage they have now. People who no longer qualify for the coverage or financial assistance won’t be automatically renewed.

Access Health Policy Analyst Chad Brooker said the idea is to avoid people being surprised when they get their first bills in 2015. So those who currently get discounted premiums but won’t be eligible in 2015 won’t be automatically renewed, nor will people who currently get discounts on their cost-sharing but won’t qualify for such steep discounts in 2015.

How will Access Health determine who qualifies?

Later this month, the exchange plans to project what existing customers will be eligible for in 2015, using data from the federal government and other sources that cover income, legal U.S. residency, Medicaid eligibility and death. Those projections will go into the notices sent to customers.

In some cases, insurance companies have stopped offering or made significant changes to plans that are available this year. People with those plans could be automatically renewed into comparable plans offered by the insurers.

What’s the timeframe for this to happen?

Access Health plans to begin processing automatic renewals for people who haven’t made any changes around Dec. 5. People who want to make changes to their coverage can do so starting Nov. 15, the first day of the open enrollment period.

Have other questions about Obamacare? Email Mirror health care reporter Arielle Levin Becker at alevinbecker@ctmirror.org.

For more Q&As, visit The Mirror’s Health Care User Guide.

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