Your Guide to Rhode Island Health Insurance
Before we jump right into Rhode Island health insurance and everything you need to know, let’s start with a little background information. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a “Obamacare”) was passed with the goal of getting all Americans access to affordable health insurance. To meet this goal, one measure Obamacare took was to create the ACA health insurance marketplaces, or health exchanges: one-stop shops where Americans can choose from a range of standardized, government-regulated health care plans. Health exchanges are also where eligible people can get subsidies, which lower the cost of their health plans.
States were given the option to run their own local exchange, take part in a multi-state exchange, or use the federal exchange. States that run their own exchanges get to customize many elements, including the time frame during which their residents can sign up for a plan. Several states decided to operate their own state exchanges and continue to do so to this day. Rhode Island is one of those states.
Rhode Island’s Health Insurance Landscape: Then and Now
The Rhode Island health insurance exchange is called HealthSource RI. Before the ACA, 13.3 percent of Rhode Islanders were uninsured. Since the introduction of HealthSource RI, the percent of Rhode Islanders without health insurance has dropped to 5.6! A total of 33 thousand people have enrolled for health insurance through HealthSource RI.
The Rhode Island Health Insurance Exchange
HealthSource RI is where eligible people throughout the state can find subsidized ACA plans. Open Enrollment for 2019 in Rhode Island begins November 1 and ends December 31. If you sign up by December 23, your coverage will start January 1. However, if you sign up after December 23, you will have to wait until February 1 to use your plan. Lucky you – this sign up window is significantly longer than the window given on the federal exchange!
HealthSource RI is unique in that you can pay your premium at any CVS in the country. THis makes paying your premium very easy and accessible!
Like all other state exchanges, each plan on HealthSource RI covers 10 essential health benefits. These include things like prescription coverage, maternity and mental health care, and laboratory services.
Buying insurance with HealthSource RI involves four steps:
1. Create an account on HealthSource RI
2. Complete the online application form
3. Compare your options
4. Select your plan and enroll
In true health insurance fashion, each of these steps can be trickier than you expect. Many people need help navigating the website, estimating their income, figuring out if they are eligible for subsidies, and understanding what documents are needed for proof of income, citizenship, or identity. Luckily, you can find a navigator to help you in-person with your application!
HealthSource RI’s Intricacies: What You Need to Know for 2019
Both insurers that offered plans on HealthSource RI for 2018 will continue to do so for 2019. This means both carriers are returning to the exchange. These two carriers include:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island
Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
As of 2017, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island had a slight majority of the Rhode Island health insurance market. While Rhode Islanders only have two carriers to choose from, they are lucky because both carriers are local and have strong connections with health care providers due to their long history in the state.
According to a recent press release from the Office of the Health Insurance commissioner, insurance plan prices are increasing. The amount by which it increases depends on where in Rhode Island you live. On average across the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island plans will increase by 7.5 percent if you choose to keep your current plan, while Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island plans will increase by 8.7 percent if you choose to keep your same plan. While this may seem scary, most health insurance shoppers can generally avoid rate increases entirely by switching to the cheapest plan within their metal tier. Not to mention, you will likely qualify for a health insurance subsidy, which can help make your plan more affordable; of the 33 thousand people enrolled through HealthSource RI, 84.4 percent receive federal subsidies.
If you live in Rhode Island, the start of Open Enrollment (the time of year when you can enroll in a new health plan) is here. Be sure to find your most affordable plan, and you’ll be well on your way for smarter, better savings all year long. And don’t forget – if you need helping finding a subsidy or picking a plan, our experts are here to help!