As Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage gets underway, consumers who have health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace are again receiving renewal notices from their health insurers. Though the insurer renewal notices are based on the same model notice required in the past, this year for many consumers, it may be causing significant--and misleading--sticker shock. That is because renewal notices sent by insurers are required to inform consumers what their 2018 monthly premium will be, assuming they receive the same amount of advanced premium tax credit (APTC) next year that they did in 2017. Insurer renewal notices have been required to present information this way since 2014. However, for the vast majority of consumers in the marketplace, premium tax credit amounts will increase significantly in 2018. Tax credit amounts are tied to the cost of the benchmark silver marketplace plan, which is increasing significantly in 2018 in most areas due to the termination by the federal government of cost-sharing payments to insurers. As a result, if a consumer buys a silver plan in both 2017 and 2018, assuming no change in income, her net monthly premium cost should stay about the same. But if the renewal notice estimates her 2018 monthly premium using the 2017 premium tax credit amount, in most areas the notice will mistakenly show a significant increase in what that consumer will pay for coverage.
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