- Am I likely to find a cheaper plan individually? Best places to shop for a new plan? It is difficult to say if an ACA plan with the same PPO coverage will be cheaper. There will certainly be cheaper HMO/EPO plans but they come at the expense of smaller provider network coverage and higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums (OOPM). You can visit HealthSherpa.com to review current 2015 plans. You can visit ValuePenguin.com to see a partial list of 2016 plans that will be available. The complete list and their final premium rates will not be public until 11/1/15 on the Healthcare.gov website. If you qualify for an ACA premium subsidy, you must obtain the plan through Healthcare.gov, otherwise you can purchase directly from the insurer or an agent.
- Can I change plans before the 18 mos is up for COBRA? You can voluntarily end COBRA and enroll in an exchange plan during the ACA Open Enrollment period 11/1/15-12/15/15 with coverage effective 1/1/16. Voluntarily ending COBRA any other time of the year does not create an ACA Special Enrollment Period. You may be interested in this E-R post
. Member shortstop14 also makes a good point in that post. With COBRA ending mid-year, you would have two deductibles to satisfy in 2016. By changing during Open Enrollment, you only have to satisfy the ACA plan deductible.
- Is it worth it to use a consultant to help pick a plan? It depends on your knowledge of health insurance terminology. Each ACA plan has a fact sheet template that lists the plan's deductible, OOPM, copays, and coinsurance. This makes it easy to compare plans on the surface. However, once you have several plans you're interested in, it's very important to review their provider network directory for coverage. Are your local doctors and hospitals included? If you travel frequently to one specific destination, does it have in-network coverage? If you travel infrequently to different locations, are you okay with the emergency coverage included in all ACA plans or would you want a greater level of coverage? This is where the members of this forum and/or the free ACA Local Help centers
can help you through the process.