Pennsylvania health insurance
Pennsylvania uninsured rate among the lowest in the nation; 8 insurers continue to offer plans in the exchange
- Louise Norris
- Individual health insurance and health reform authority; broker
- February 8, 2018
Pennsylvania health insurance overview
Pennsylvania’s delayed Medicaid expansion in 2015 made a swift impact on the state’s uninsured rate, which was already among the lowest in the nation. By 2016, only 5.6 percent of Pennsylvania’s population was uninsured.
Despite a year of GOP efforts to dismantle the ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare), the law remains intact as of early 2018. Premium subsidies continue to be available to help eligible consumers reduce their monthly premiums when they buy plans from Pennsylvania’s exchange, and cost-sharing reductions (CSR) are still available to eligible enrollees, despite the fact that the federal government is no longer reimbursing insurers for the cost of that benefit (instead, insurers have added the cost to silver plan premiums for 2018, which resulted in larger premium subsidies).
The GOP tax bill that was enacted in late 2017 will eventually repeal the individual mandate penalty, but not until 2019 (there is still a penalty for being uninsured in 2018).
Health insurance carriers, rates for 2018
Many of the nation’s health insurance exchanges saw carrier exits for 2018, but Pennsylvania’s exchange did not. All of the insurers that offered plans in 2017 continued to offer plans for 2018 (Aetna stopped offering their off-exchange plans at the end of 2017, but those plans had only been available outside the exchange). Pennsylvania’s exchange is still one of the most robust when it comes to carrier options.
The carriers and their approved average 2018 rate increases are as follows (note that these rate increases are much higher than they would have been if the Trump Administration hadn’t eliminated CSR funding; the cost of CSR has been built into silver plan rates, driving the average increase sharply higher, but the rate increase for plans at other metal levels is smaller):
- Capital Advantage Assurance – 49.2 percent rate increase
- First Priority Health (HMO) – 13.88 percent rate increase
- Geisinger Health Plan – 31.3 percent rate increase
- Highmark, Inc. (EPO and PPO) – 25.27 percent rate increase
- Highmark Health Insurance Company (PPO) – 9.68 percent rate increase
- Keystone Health Plan Central (Independence Blue Cross HMO – 21.7 percent rate increase
- QCC Insurance Company (Independence Blue Cross PPO) – 28.24 percent rate increase
- UPMC Health Options (PPO and EPO) – 41.15 percent rate increase
Most counties in Pennsylvania have at least two insurers offering plans in the state’s exchange for 2018, but there are several counties in western Pennsylvania where UPMC is the only exchange insurer in 2018 (note that the map from CMS isn’t entirely accurate, as it was last updated in September 2017. For example, Crawford County is shown as having just one insurer for 2018, but they have two — UPMC and Highmark).
Pennsylvania health ratings
In 2015, America’s Health Rankings placed Pennsylvania 29th out of the 50 states in terms of overall health. In the 2017 ranking, Pennsylvania moved up one spot, the 28th. The state’s rating is helped by its number of uninsured, 13th lowest of the ranked states; number of primary care physicians, 5th best; and percentage of adolescents who have had all of their recommended vaccinations, 7th best. But it’s ranked 48th in terms of air pollution, and 42nd for public health funding.
Pennsylvania fared slightly better in The Commonwealth Fund’s 2017 Scorecard on State Health System Performance. The state came in 22nd out of the 50 states and DC, down from 16th in the previous edition of the scorecard. The Pennsylvania Scorecard provides more in-depth details showing how the rating was determined.
Trust for America’s Health has summarized a variety of public health data pertaining to Pennsylvania in their 2016 edition of Key Health Data, which contains information on specific diseases, health factors, and outcomes.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also analyzed public health data at the county level, ranking Pennsylvania’s counties on this interactive map. The southeast part of the state has some of the highest-ranking counties for both health factors and outcomes.
How did Obamacare help PA residents?
In 2013, before the bulk of the ACA’s regulations were implemented, the uninsured rate in Pennsylvania was 9.6 percent — well below the 14.5 percent national average uninsured rate at that point.
Initially, the state did not expand Medicaid, which resulted in a small decline in its uninsured rate during 2014, the year the ACA took effect. About 360,000 people obtained coverage, including Medicaid/CHIP and private plans, through the Pennsylvania exchange during the first open enrollment.
Pennsylvania expanded Medicaid in 2015, initially with a waiver, and saw even more residents gain coverage. By 2016, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate dropped to 5.6 percent. Nationwide, 8.6 percent of individuals were uninsured as of 2016.
As of 2015, there were still 994,000 nonelderly Pennsylvania residents who were eligible for ACA coverage but remained uninsured – nearly half (48 percent) of them were eligible for Medicaid, and 18 percent qualified for tax credits to help lower their monthly exchange-based insurance premiums.
In September 2015, Pennsylvania was awarded more than $3.1 million in Navigator grants to help six organizations provide outreach and enrollment assistance through 2018. In September 2017, total Navigator grants for Pennsylvania’s six Navigator organizations amounted to just under $2 million. Across the country, Navigator grants were sharply lower in 2017, due to funding cuts made by the Trump Administration.
Pennsylvania enrollment in qualified health plans
In the fall of 2013, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 1,276,000 Pennsylvania residents could potentially buy qualified health plans (QHPs) through the exchange and that 715,000 of them would qualify for premium subsidies. By the end of the first open enrollment period, 318,077 people purchased private plans in the Pennsylvania exchange, and 81 percent received premium subsidies.
As of March 2015, Pennsylvania’s effectuated exchange enrollment was 412,347. About 78 percent of those enrollees were receiving premium subsidies on average of $248 per month. Enrollment continued to grow through 2016, but decreased in 2017 and again in 2018. This mirrored a national trend of reduced enrollment among states that use the federally-run exchange (enrollment tended to increase in states that run their own exchanges). This is due in large part to the Trump Administration’s decision to reduce funding for HealthCare.gov’s marketing and enrollment assistance, as well as the much shorter open enrollment period that was implemented in the fall of 2017 (people only had a little over six weeks to sign up for 2018 coverage, instead of the three-month window they had in prior years).
Pennsylvania and the Affordable Care Act
In 2010, both of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators, Democrats Robert Casey and Arlen Specter, voted in favor of the ACA. In the U.S. House, eleven Democrat representatives voted yes, while seven Republicans voted no.
Specter has since been replaced in the Senate by Republican Pat Toomey, and the U.S. House now includes just five Pennsylvania Democrats, and 12 Republicans.
At the state level, the overall population in Pennsylvania has a Democratic majority, but the Republicans hold a majority in the state’s House and Senate. Former Gov. Tom Corbett was also a Republican and not an ACA supporter. As such, the state defaulted to a federally facilitated health insurance exchange.
But unlike many Republican governors, Corbett pursued the possibility of Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Corbett submitted his proposal for a modified version of Medicaid expansion – dubbed Healthy Pennsylvania – to HHS in February 2014. It took half a year of negotiations, but on August 28, 2014, Corbett and HHS announced that they had reached an agreement, and Pennsylvania became the 28th state, including DC, to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid and thereby cover residents with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty.
Corbett lost the 2014 gubernatorial election to Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Gov. Wolf was sworn into office January 20, 2015. Shortly after he assumed office, Wolf began to do away with Healthy PA in favor of traditional Medicaid expansion, which had been a campaign promise. Pennsylvania has had Medicaid expansion as called for in the ACA ever since, as opposed to the modified version of expansion that Corbett had overseen.
By July 27, 2015, about 439,000 Pennsylvanians had enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program – expanded coverage did not take effect until January 2015. The state saw a 12 percent increase in its average monthly Medicaid enrollment from 2013 to 2015.
However, the expansion of Medicaid has intensified that increase. Pennsylvania’s monthly Medicaid enrollment now averages 2,956,575 – a 24 percent increase between 2013 and November 2017.
Medicare in the Keystone State
Pennsylvania Medicare enrollment reached 2.5 million in 2015, which was 20 percent of the state’s population. About 17 percent of the U.S. population is enrolled in Medicare. In the Keystone State, 84 percent of Medicare beneficiaries qualify based on age alone and 16 percent qualify due to a disability; this distribution is also on par with the national average.
Medicare spends about $9,179 annually per Pennsylvania enrollee, which is just above the $8,970 per enrollee spent nationally. As of 2009, the state ranked fifth in overall Medicare spending with $23.7 billion per year.
Pennsylvanians that qualify for Medicare can select a Medicare Advantage plan instead of Original Medicare, and about 41 percent do so. About 42 percent of Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in stand-alone prescription drug benefits through a Medicare Part D plan. Nationally, about 31 percent of Medicare beneficiaries choose a Medicare Advantage plan and 45 percent select a Rx plan.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see a summary of recent health care reform legislation in Pennsylvania.
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.
More Pennsylvania coverage
News, history, and enrollment info for your state marketplace
Pennsylvania Health Insurance
Affordable Pennsylvania Health Insurance Quotes
Affordable Health Insurance In Pennsylvania – Compare Lowest Pa Rates
Compare the guaranteed lowest allowable rates for your Pennsylvania health insurance plan coverage, and enroll in 20 minutes. Pa policies are available through the Exchange with pre-existing conditions covered. You also can not be denied for medical reasons, and a government tax credit may help you pay for the policy. Plans are also offered that do not receive a federal subsidy. If Obamacare is replaced or altered by future legislation, additional options will become available.
Senior Medigap plans are also also available, and can be easily reviewed. Medicare Supplement and Advantage contracts may be able to reduce your copays, deductibles, coinsurance, and specific out-of-pocket expenses not covered by original Medicare. If you have reached age 65, you may also be eligible for Part D prescription drug benefits. Plans A-N are standardized, and also include a high-deductible option.
Whether you are working for yourself, working for an employer, uninsured, self-employed, a single person, or a family, our website allows you to research, compare and apply for quality individual healthcare coverage in Pennsylvania both on and off the Marketplace. You can also choose non-Obamacare plans.
You can quickly view plans from the best providers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, IBX, Highmark, AARP, UPMC, Keystone, Aetna (Coventry), UnitedHealthcare, Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger, and Cigna. And, if Keystone Plan East or Highmark introduce a new plan, you can apply for coverage online, or by fax/email. During Open Enrollment periods, the process is especially quick. Many additional plans are offered to small and large employers that provide their employees with medical benefits.
Online Quotes And Rates Are Available 24/7
Your online Pa health insurance quotes are provided by an Agency/broker with more than 37 years of experience. In less than three minutes, you can view the most popular healthcare plans. Your service is provided by a live person and not an automated website. Inexpensive Pa plans are available 24/7 on our website. PPOs, HMO, HSAs and all comprehensive and catastrophic plans are presented in an easy-to-understand format. If you are a small business owner or your employer does not offer health insurance, we’ll help you purchase the policy that best stays within your price range.
Pa Health Insurance Marketplace Prices – Compare And Enroll
The Pa Health Insurance Marketplace offers affordable Exchange medical plans and generous tax subsidies. Many Pennsylvania consumers now pay less for their coverage than before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was created. But there are still a few surprises along the way. We highlighted most of the major ones so you won’t be caught off guard when you notice them.
This Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) allows you to purchase low-cost plans at affordable prices through our website. Our assistance is always free and advice is unbiased. And for consumers that choose NOT to participate in the Exchange, there are many options for “Off-Marketplace” plans that have large networks and premiums that fit within your budget. Open Enrollment begins on November 1st for 2018 or 2019 coverage. However, the last day is December 15th, instead of January 31st, which was the last day for previous enrollments.
2018 Non-Compliance Penalty
For 2018, the penalty for not securing qualified coverage is $695 per adult ($2,085 maximum) or 2.5% of total household income, whichever is higher. However, you are exempt from the penalty if your household income is lower than the federal income tax return filing threshold. Generally, this is approximately $10,400 for a single return, and $20,800 for a joint return. You can also bypass the penalty if you are not a US citizen, you are incarcerated, or your gap in lapsed coverage is less than three months. The tax penalty was repealed for 2019.
Medicare sign-up is not affected since the Exchange offers plans to persons under the age of 65. Seniors that have reached age 65, have a different Open Enrollment period (October 15th-December 7th). Medicare Supplement and Advantage plans are popular Medigap options that can help pay for many expenses that are not covered. Part D prescription drug plans are also offered to Seniors.
Several new companies began offering policies in Pennsylvania last year. UnitedHealthcare (UHC), one of the nation’s largest providers, began offering plans in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. UHC, who only sold policies (subsidized) in four states a few years ago, is present in several states. One of their cheapest policies is a Bronze-tier contract with a $7,350 deductible, which is the highest-allowed deductible option.
Aetna, however, has exited the Keystone State for individual coverage, but will offer off-Exchange and Group plans. Other carriers offering either individual (on or off Marketplace) or Group plans include Capital Blue Cross, Independence Blue Cross, Geisinger, UPMC, Highmark, Federated Mutual, First Priority Life, Freedom Life, Keystone Health Plan Central, and National Foundation Life.
I Missed Pa Open Enrollment! Now What?
Unless you qualify for a special “lifetime event,” you will not be able to utilize federal subsidies or Exchange options until the next Open Enrollment. However, there are many qualifying events, such as having a baby, losing your employer-provided or private-provided coverage, moving to Pennsylvania from another state, and a divorce. Of course, there are numerous other situations that also qualify for an exception.
For persons that simply forgot to apply for coverage or don’t qualify for a special event, there are several low-cost policies that can be purchased, and often quickly approved. However, it is possible they will not contain all of the mandatory benefits that the new ACA legislation requires, and thus, avoiding the non-compliance tax would not be possible.
Short-term plans are very cheap and can be approved within 24 hours. These plans can be purchased any time of the year. UnitedHealthcare is one of many reputable companies that offer this type of plan. You can purchase a policy directly through our website at the lowest offered cost. However, they are not designed to cover a condition that you are presently being treated for. Also, since they are “non-compliant,” unlimited benefits are not included, and you will likely have to pay the “shared responsibility payment,” for not enrolling for qualified coverage.
Young Healthy Persons Are Needed
Under the Affordable Care Act legislation (Obamacare), everybody is eligible for coverage, regardless if you are in impeccable health or have life-threatening medical conditions that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. It doesn’t matter anymore since all plans are “guaranteed approval” with no underwriting (except for smoking).
However, since millions of additional claim dollars will be paid by Pennsylvania health insurance companies (compared to previous years), in order for the system to work, additional healthy persons, that file very few claims, will have to be added. Young adults, although their premiums are not high, are becoming a big target for carriers.
Pennsylvania Health Insurance Quote – Compare Pa Rates
Find free Pennsylvania health insurance quotes so you can compare the most affordable Pa plans. But there are hundreds of websites that will provide rates. What’s so special about our website? We have more than 35 years of experience helping customers, and we understand that shopping for Under age 65 or Senior coverage in or outside of the Marketplace is very challenging and time-consuming.
Regardless if you need personal, group, child, Medigap, or family benefits, our professionals can help. It’s important to be able to understand the actual benefits you are viewing, and ensure only trusted companies are compared.
If buying a policy through Pa Open Enrollment, you can choose from multiple Exchange options that do not require you to answer any health-related questions. You may also be able to qualify for a large federal tax subsidy that can save thousands of dollars per year. We can assist you in determining how large your credit is and the best type of policy you should purchase. If you are Medicaid or Medicare-eligible, you can view the most affordable plans in your area.
We don’t just educate you about Pa healthcare policies. We also do the shopping for you so you can spend less time trying to compare side by side hundreds of different options. In just a few minutes, you can actually buy your policy online. And there are many other reasons to use our free help:
Low rates are very important, but there are other factors to consider. Your coverage must match your particular needs. It is easy to find the Pennsylvania plan with the lowest premium. The hard part is finding the plan that costs you the least. And that’s our specialty. We want you to be able to use the benefits you pay for, but also not pay for coverage you don’t need. For example, if you don’t travel overseas, you don’t need international coverage. If there are no children in your household, well-baby visits are no longer needed.
We are not an online “call center” that simply quotes a Pennsylvania policy and leaves all future servicing to you. As your personal statewide broker, we offer our expertise at no charge any time you need it. And when your policy renews, we’ll review the rate to make sure it is still your best option. Whether you need help with a claim, billing, or making changes to your policy, we’ll be available.
Shop PA Individual And Family Health Insurance Plans – Senior Coverage
Pa individual health insurance plans are available at very affordable rates. Most large Pennsylvania companies offer a large selection of personal policies to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers both on and off the Marketplace. Whether you’re not working, self-employed, an early retiree, or uninsured, we will find the right health insurance for you. When purchasing the new “Exchange” plans, there are several new options.
Typically in Pennsylvania, United Healthcare, Coventry, UPMC, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark, Keystone, Capital BlueCross, Geisinger and Independence Blue Cross have the most competitive rates. Most individual policies are not medically underwritten, so pre-existing conditions are covered and do not increase your premium. Senior Medicare coverage is offered to help reduce out-of-pocket costs.