ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK
U.S. law still mandates that people have health insurance in 2018, but in 2019 the fine on those who don’t have insurance goes away. An insurance broker has said it will be good when the dust settles and the effects of the change become clearer.
The federal tax reform law President Donald Trump signed in December strikes the fine imposed on taxpayers who don’t have insurance coverage, starting in 2019.
HealthMarkets Insurance Agency Individual Insurance Agent Dave Ferguson said there won’t be much of a change in insurance offerings once the mandate is essentially lifted in 2019, but he said premiums outside of government insurance exchanges could go up 10 percent every year.
“These insurance companies do have to make money,” Ferguson said. “They adjust their premiums to the point where they think they’re going to make money. They never know for sure until they get through the whole year.”
With renewed efforts expected this year in Congress to reform the health insurance industry, Ferguson said there’s a lot of confusion among consumers.
“And it will be nice when things settle down and become stabilized in the marketplace, whatever that solution winds up being,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said the amount of money needed to fund Medicaid could go down as result of people who would have been forced into Medicaid deciding to forego insurance.
Goldwater Institute Director of Healthcare Policy Naomi Lopez Bauman agreed.
“Assuming that people choose not to enroll because there’s no longer a penalty, you could potentially see some savings,” Bauman said.
Medicaid is among the largest costs for Illinois taxpayers.
Ferguson said Illinois’ biggest challenge for those forced into Medicaid because of the mandate is the time it takes to process individual applications.
Bauman said the solution ultimately should be to afford consumers more choices that fit their needs.
“Why not open up the market so there could be more innovation, more choices of products?” Bauman said.
People who don’t obtain insurance coverage for this year can still expect a fine, Ferguson said.