The providers at Women’s Care are concerned about access to affordable healthcare. As a reminder open enrollment for insurance plans is now underway. There has been a lot of confusing information this year regarding changes in health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. We have tried to distill out some suggestions and observations below.
Tips for Affordable Care Act Shoppers
1. Start shopping early. With the shorter window this year and reduced help from Navigators, the sooner you begin looking, the better. You can start at HealthCare.gov, which can provide a lot of basic information on the law and even help you find someone locally to answer questions. While nationally Open Enrollment will end on December 15th, if you are a resident of NY state the NY State Exchange will be open until January 31, as it has been in the past. You can also phone the Marketplace Call Center toll-free 24-hour hotline for general information (800-318-2596). Or you could contact an insurance agent or broker; these pros can be found through HealthCare.gov and NY state provides a handy search tool (by zip code) to identify Navigators and others who can help explain the choices and the process.
2. If you bought a policy through the ACA last year, don’t let your health insurer automatically renew it. The plan’s coverage, doctor network, deductibles and premiums may have changed, consequently making it a worse deal than an alternative. Therefore, compare plans being sold where you live.
3. Look beyond premiums when comparing policies.You’ll want to scrutinize the deductibles and co-payments so you’ll know how much you’ll owe out-of-pocket. Determine which medical services are covered (and which aren’t) and which doctors you can see. If you see a doctor frequently, or are expecting medical interventions such as having a child or surgery, you may be better off with a higher premium and lower deductible. On-line calculators can help you visualize different scenarios.