Better coverage and costs with ACA insurance in 2019, but not everyone will save

MEMPHIS, Tenn--Kimberly Branch has been doing nails for nearly 20 years.  She runs Pamper Me Nails inside Fabellous Beauty Lounge in East Memphis.

"Absolutely love what I do," says Branch.

While there are plenty of benefits to being your own boss, sometimes, health insurance, isn't one of them.

"Before Obamacare, I did not have health insurance."

So, for the past few years, Branch has shopped for insurance through the Marketplace.

"I chose something very affordable for me."

Branch says her plan is cost effective with good coverage. She says she has a plenty of choices with physicians.

The only downside, Branch says is the high deductible.

"You can have a deductible of anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 that you would have to meet, if you have to have, like major surgeries."

Fortunately, Branch hasn't had to worry about that.

Grace Pilot, on the other hand, has felt the effects of fewer options in both coverage and cost.

"About two weeks ago, my doctor ordered my an MRI, Cigna denied it."

Pilot works with her husband at their tax business in Whitehaven, Pilot's Income Tax & Bookkeeping Service.

She started out with Humana, but with only Cigna left in Memphis, Pilot says she's literally paying the price.

"My deductible stayed about pretty much the same, but my insurance went up from $600 and something to over a $1,000!"

But next year, people like Pilot could actually put money back into their pocket.

For the first time ever, a number of insurance companies offering ACA plans in Tennessee have proposed lower premiums.

That includes, Shelby County's only carrier, Cigna, with a proposed decrease of nearly 4.8 percent.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has a proposed average decrease of 10.9 percent.

WREG spoke with insurance agent Chuck Hudspeth about the possible changes for 2019.

"We`re seeing decreases throughout the state, and for people that don`t qualify for subsidies, that is, people that have to pay the full cost, this is good news."

However, there is also bad news.

Hudspeth crunched the numbers and says not everyone will see savings.

In fact, he says some consumers, who qualify for a full subsidy and pay nothing out of pocket, will actually see an increase.

"So although prices are going down, most of my customers are going to pay more for the same coverage."

But, the other good news is that those customers  may not have to keep the same coverage, which is a big benefit for folks in Shelby County.

Three additional carriers have proposed offering coverage in Memphis in 2019 including: Bright Health, Celtic (Ambetter) Insurance and Oscar Health.

A possible increase in options, and a decrease in cost is exactly what Pilot and Branch want to see.

Branch told WREG, "That`s good, I`ll check into it and see. I want something cheaper, but still, I want to keep my same doctors."

"I`m excited about maybe what the options may be...what`s upcoming, to see what`s out there," said Branch.

Rates won't become final until the fall. This year, open enrollment runs November 1, 2018 through December 15, 2018.

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