Renewing Health Insurance for 2019: Understanding and Evaluating Your Options

If you currently have health insurance, make sure to mark your calendars! Open Enrollment is just around the corner, and it affects which health plan you will have for 2019. Now is the time to understand how renewing health insurance works!

How Does Open Enrollment Affect Your Current Plan?

Open Enrollment is the time of year when renewing health insurance happens. There are two ways this can happen:

  1. Active renewal: You personally cancel the insurance you had last year and pick a new health plan for 2019.
  2. Passive renewal: Your insurance company will automatically re-enroll you in the same plan (if it is available for 2019) or a similar one.

Not sure whether you should actively or passively renew? Here are some important things to know about each option.

Passive Renewals: What You Should Know

If you don’t choose new health insurance for 2019, you will likely get auto-renewed in the same or a similar plan. The way this works changes for each individual, so be aware of these details when it comes to passively renewing health insurance:

  1. Your insurer can leave your zip code. Insurance companies constantly change where they offer their plans. If your insurer decides to stop covering your zip code, you may or may not be auto-renewed. It all depends on where you bought your plan last year.
    • If you enrolled through or your state exchange, you will be auto-enrolled in a plan that is similar to your 2018 selection.
    • If you enrolled directly through an insurance company, you will NOT be auto-renewed and will need to actively select a new plan.
  2. Passive renewal may not work if you’ve moved. Have you moved since enrolling in a 2018 health plan and didn’t enroll in coverage in your new zip code? Be sure to let your insurance company know. Many states are on the federal marketplace (a.k.a., but some sell subsidized health plans on their own state exchange. You can see a list of all the states that use here.
    • You moved from one state to another. → You will be auto-enrolled in a similar plan if your 2018 plan is no longer available.
    • You moved from a state to a state with its own exchange. → You will NOT be auto-enrolled and will need to actively select a new plan for 2019.
    • You move from one state exchange to another. → You will NOT be auto-enrolled and will need to actively select a new plan for 2019.
    • You move from a state with its own exchange to a state. → You will NOT be auto-enrolled and will need to actively select a new plan for 2019.

    Keep in mind that all important life changes (known as qualifying events in fancy health insurance lingo) like moving, having a baby, or a change in income should be reported to your insurer. If you do experience some of these changes, chances are you’ll want to consider actively renewing health insurance instead – so keep on reading!

  3. Your plan may not look the same next year. Insurance companies do not have to keep plan prices or details the same from year to year. If you want to auto-enroll in the same plan – or if you let your insurance company switch you to a similar one – you may see a change in:
    • The price of your monthly payments
    • Your deductible amount
    • Your doctor network
    • Your prescription coverage

    If it’s important to you that your health plan covers certain doctors or drugs, or if you are very price sensitive, be sure to look into whether or not your plan’s details are changing next year.

Active Renewals: What You Should Know

  1. Shopping around for a new plan could save you money. Let’s face it: life changes from year-to-year, and your health insurance does, too. Picking a health plan that is up-to-date with your income, health needs, and family size can help you save money throughout the year. We suggest active renewal if any of these situations apply to you:
    • Your carrier stops selling your existing plan
    • Your current plan’s premium, deductible, and/or coinsurance are going up
    • Your current plan’s doctor networks and/or prescription coverage is changing
    • New insurers or plans are being offered in your state’s marketplace
    • Your income is going to change
    • You experienced a change in household (ie: got married, had a child)
    • Your health needs have changed

    Learn more about when to switch health plans and how it can save you money here.

  2. You will need to cancel your existing plan if you want a new one. Your current health plan is likely set to auto-renew. If you decide to actively switch to a new plan, be sure to let your current insurer or marketplace know; that way, you won’t be double-enrolled and receive two bills in January!

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