Updated on May 21, 2018
As of 2018, there are 11 states and the District of Columbia who have their own state exchange marketplace and Louisiana is not in that list. Instead, Louisianians rely on the federal marketplace found on Healthcare.gov to enroll in marketplace plans. Louisianians can also use the assistance of a licensed health insurance agent or they can enroll on their own using an independent web-based enrollment broker in order to get Obamacare coverage.
Requirement by Law
The individual mandate is still in effect for the 2018 calendar year; however it's unknown whether the IRS will continue its more relaxed stance on reporting whether a person has compliant insurance or whether they will be more strict the final year before the individual mandate is truly gone in 2019. In December 2017, Congress passed a tax bill that included a provision to abolish the tax penalty starting in 2019. Before that, however, Americans should be prepared to pay 2.5% of the gross household income or $695 per uninsured adult and $347.50 per uninsured child under the age of 18, whichever is greater.
Enrollment in Louisiana
Enrollment in Louisiana has been declining the past couple of years. In 2016, 214,000 people enrolled for a subsidized plan. The following year, in 2017, 143,577 people enrolled, which represents a 33 percent decrease. In 2018, only 110,000 people enrolled on the federal marketplace, which is a decrease of another 23 percent from the year prior.
There's no specific reason why Louisiana, along with many other states, saw such a decrease in enrollment numbers. A number of factors that affected Louisianians this past year were: increased premium prices, decreased carrier and plan options, the uncertainty over what changes President Trump and his Administration would make to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and whether or not Congress would successfully repeal and replace the law.
In 2018, Louisiana exchange customers were able to choose from three carriers on the exchange, down from four carriers this year: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, HMO Louisiana and Vantage Health Plan. Customers with plans from Humana, which exited the individual market at the end of 2017, needed to find new coverage for 2018.Plan options from these insurers varied across the state. Premium rate increases for 2018 also varied, which will be the same in 2019 more than likely. Carriers will start announcing whether they will participate in the 2019 market over the summer and early fall of 2018 so it's unknown right now how many carrier choices Louisianians will have to choose from.
Even though premiums rose in 2018 in Louisiana, as it did across the country, Louisianians still had the benefit of receiving subsidies if they earned between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. These subsidies are a huge help for individuals and families who want access to better plans that they would not be able to afford otherwise.
Subsidies are also available if a person enrolls in an Obamacare plan outside of the open enrollment period so long as they have a qualifying life event. A couple examples of a qualifying life event are: you moved to a new state and your plan is no longer available to you, you lost your group health plan from your employer, you got married or divorced or you had a child or you just came out of being incarcerated.
In 2017, CMS passed a rule that it made it increasingly more difficult and arduous to enroll in a plan outside of the open enrollment period, so be prepared with documentation proof of your qualifying life event and make sure you enroll within 60 days of the date that the event occurs in order to qualify.
Although passed in 2010, Obamacare, also known by the more formal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or ACA, this healthcare law actually went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Under the ACA, all Louisiana residents' healthcare needs are fulfilled by a federally facilitated exchange, Healthcare.gov.
By visiting the federal Marketplace website or a private, web-based broker to enroll, customers can compare available plans, whether private or for for-profit, and receive pricing and benefit information. But it's important to thoroughly review your options. Thanks to Obamacare, there are such changes as: protections against unjustified rate hikes; exclusions due to pre-existing conditions; and the ability to remain on parents' policies up to the age of 26.
The 2019 open enrollment period will begin on November 1, 2018 and end on December 15, 2018. Just like last year, Louisianians will only have 45 short days to enroll in a health insurance plan. It remains to be seen whether enrollment numbers in the state will continue to the decline at the same rate or whether carrier and plan choices and premium prices will be attractive to Louisianians and drive them to sign up.
You can use the links below to get quotes direct from national insurance providers.