Big changes on the way for Affordable Care Act insurance in 2018

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- People who get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act should prepare for changes in 2018.

While it's not bad news for everyone, some folks will have to change insurances companies and others will face higher premiums.

This comes on top of the fact that open enrollment, which begins Nov. 1,  will only last six weeks this year, instead of three months.

The government is also cutting funding to groups that help people find insurance.

A letter recently sent to Farm Bureau customers in Tennessee is a reminder the company won't be offering Affordable Care Act plans in 2018.

In fact next year, Cigna will be the only carrier in West Tennessee, and it'll be costly.

"Cigna has filed with the state this summer that they want to raise the prices about 50 percent on average across the state," explained Chuck Hudspeth of the Hudspeth Benefits Group.

The good news is, according to Hudspeth, who crunched the numbers, many people won't see a major change.

"A lot of people in Memphis are going to qualify for subsidies and in fact most of them are going to find that their prices are going to actually go down. So if you have coverage through the Marketplace and you`re getting a subsidy, you may have to switch carriers, but it`s very likely that you`re going to find that your price is going to go down."

That's not the case, however, for people who make too much to qualify for a subsidy.

Hudspeth calculated premiums for Cigna's Silver plan.

"That plan is going to cost about $470 a month for a 25 year old, and you get older the price goes up; a 60-year-old will pay almost $1,300 a month for that plan."

Hudspeth says that number practically doubles for married seniors.

Hudspeth says there are alternatives, and options to offset the price hikes.

"A small change in income could make a substantial difference in your costs."

For example, working fewer hours, or putting money into an IRA could lower a person's income.

Small business owners could consider group insurance.

There's also the option of getting what's called a "non-compliant" plan.

Hudspeth says these are traditional plans with exclusions for things like pre-existing conditions and they don't include all of the basic benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, which could mean an IRS penalty.

Even still, Hudspeth says in some cases, it'll be more affordable for people who don't qualify for the tax break.

"For someone that is very healthy these non-compliant plans are going to be significantly less."

Farm Bureau is offering its 2017 ACA customers an option to buy non-compliant plans for 2018. Those who sign up by Sept. 30 won't be subject to pre-existing conditions waiting periods.

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