Health care exchanges to roll out ‘Simple Choice’ plans for 2017

Health care exchanges to roll out ‘Simple Choice’ plans for 2017
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Open enrollment is less than two weeks away. If you don’t already get health care through your employer, are you dreading having to slog through tons of info online to arrive at a health care decision?

Good news! There’s something new this year that could simply the shopping process for you.

Read more: How to deal with a hospital that’s overbilling you

‘Simple Choice’ plans are coming for 2017

When you log on to come Nov.1, there will be a new option for those making health care elections in 2017. It’s called ‘Simple Choice’ and it’s going to be a series of standardized health plans that offer an alternative to the rise of high-deductible health plans.

According to the New York Times, Simple Choice plans aim to cover basic services like primary care visits, specialist visits, generic prescriptions and more–all without a deductible.

The Simple Choice plans will be available for the duration of open enrollment, all the way through Jan. 31, 2017.

Below are the co-payments you’ll have with Simple Choice plans at the silver level. (As stated, there is no deductible to be met.)

  • $30 for a primary care doctor visit
  • $65 for a specialist visit
  • $15 for a generic prescription drug
  • $50 for a preferred brand-name drug
  • $100 for a nonpreferred brand-name drug
  • Up to 40% for the cost of any specialty drugs, like those needed for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis

But there’s a lot we don’t yet know about the Simple Choice plans, including how many of these plans will be available, how much they will cost and in which states they’ll be available.

In addition, just as there’s no deductible, there’s also no cap on premiums. Premiums will be regulated by state insurance commissioners in most cases, which effectively means Simple Choice plans may not always be the cheapest option.

What happens if I choose to go without health coverage?

For an individual, the penalties for not having health coverage in 2016 will be $695 per person. The family penalty will be $2,085 or 2.5% of income.

The penalty will be collected by the IRS from your tax return when you file by next April. Penalties only apply if you are not covered through work and you do not buy a policy on your own.

While there’s no word yet on the exact penalty for not having health coverage in 2017, you can expect it to increase above the 2016 levels in tandem with the rate of inflation.

Read more: 2+ million people not getting the health care subsidies they’re eligible for

Stocking your medicine cabinet at the dollar store

Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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