The Open Enrollment season for health insurance is in full swing, but some of you probably haven’t gotten started yet. That’s okay, but keep in mind that with the holidays rapidly approaching, you might run short on time later. In California our Open Enrollment lasts from October 15 to January 31, but you must sign up for a plan by December 15 if you want coverage to start January 1.
So, how do you get started right now? Just follow these simple tips.
Step One: Make a short list of your priorities. Do you prefer to remain with a favorite healthcare provider? Do you have any health conditions for which you require medication or specialized care? Are you at risk of developing such a condition, and want to cover your bases just in case? Do you value certain types of care over others? Which healthcare facilities are convenient for your location and schedule?
Step Two: Analyze your family structure. Are you single, married, or married with children? Do you plan to add a child to your household in the next year (whether through pregnancy or adoption). Changing household structures can drastically alter your priorities, so make sure you’ve considered things from that angle.
Step Three: Consider your budget. A low-deductible plan will cost you a higher monthly premium, whereas a low-premium plan will come with a higher deductible. You should consider how much you can realistically afford each month, keeping in mind that you might be eligible for a subsidy that helps you cover at least part of your premiums. Consider, too, whether you have upcoming medical expenses, or if you’re unlikely to even meet your annual deductible (although no one can ever know this for sure).
Step Four: Consider other money-saving options. If you do opt for a higher-deductible plan, consider whether a health savings account (HSA) might be a good fit for you. You can save pre-tax dollars for use toward healthcare expenses (like your deductible) and any unused funds in the account can be rolled over to the next year.
A flexible spending account (FSA) allows you to divert pre-tax money into an employer-owned account, to be used for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. However, you could lose the money if you don’t use it all by the end of the year, or change employers.
Step Five: Investigate plans. In California plans will differ depending upon your county. After you log into the Covered California system, or as you work with an insurance professional who can show you your options, it’s time to to compare the plans in the pricing tier you’ve chosen. Ask questions regarding the priorities you set in step one, so that you can identify the plan that best suits your preferences.
We can help you evaluate your budget, and then match you with a plan that suits your needs. Give us a call, and we’ll get started today. Remember, the deadline for coverage that begins January 1 is December 15. Let’s take care of this before Thanksgiving, so you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year.