Open Enrollment 101 – Ways to Save on Health Insurance
Open Enrollment season is here and ending in mid-December (though some states have extended enrollment periods). In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just reported that more than 1.6 million individuals have enrolled in the past two weeks. One thing is for certain: 2020 has demonstrated the importance of health more than ever.
Ensuring that you have the right health insurance coverage for you and your family members can be confusing and stressful. If you are able to secure health insurance through an employer, then they should have a process for you to follow to get the coverage you need. Yet, millions of individuals lost their jobs this year – and with it, their health insurance coverage.
If you fall in that camp or if employer-based health insurance coverage is not an option, here is some guidance on how to navigate the enrollment process.
Look for Savings
There are various ways to save on your health insurance. For example, depending on your income, you may be eligible for a government subsidy to lower the premium costs of health insurance. If your household income falls between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you would be eligible. This translates to a monthly income of roughly $1,400 for a single person or $2,950 for a family of four. Check with your state’s Medicaid agency to see if you do in fact qualify. Additionally, many states offer Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) coverage for young children of parents with low incomes.
Compare Plan Costs
Just as you compare costs on groceries, cars, internet providers and anything else, you should do the same with your health insurance. From premiums to deductibles to copays, try to gain a clear understanding of what your options are so you can hopefully maximize your savings.
One way to achieve this is to reach out to a licensed, unbiased health insurance agent who can provide information on various carriers and options. Alternatively, companies like HealthMarkets offer an online tool that allows you to answer a few questions and then receive recommended plans you can purchase on the spot.
Review Doctors, Medications and Health Needs
If you or other family members have particular physicians you want to keep seeing, ensure that you check if they are covered by the health insurance plan(s) you are considering. Likewise, check to see if any medications needed for family members are covered, as well as any alternative practices, such as chiropractic care. This helps you ensure that any ‘must have’ doctors, services and medications are included for you and your family members.
Like any insurance we have, we don’t want to have to use it unless we need to. Health insurance can fall in this same boat. While it’s easier to anticipate the annual wellness checks and other appointments or procedures we may need more regularly, the more unpredictable health issues that come about can be costly. We may not be able to control everything but maintaining good health for yourself and your family can help keep costs down. Don’t smoke, eat well, exercise regularly and take care of yourself and your loved ones, and you will hopefully prevent major medical scares.
Remember, while the open enrollment and health insurance process can be confusing and overwhelming, there are many services and individual licensed agents available to help answer your questions and guide you to the best option for your family’s health and financial needs.