Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Understanding the Affordable Care Act and Navigating the Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act helps more people gain access to affordable health insurance, guarantees coverage for preexisting conditions and provides financial assistance to those who qualify.  The Marketplace is where individuals and families can shop and compare plans to find what fits their needs best.  Open enrollment began November 15th and closes February 15th.  The time to make your choice is now.

I know, I know, I have yet to post any pictures or the birth story of our newest little one.  I promise that this is in the works, but due to the Marketplace deadlines, I felt that this was of some urgency.

As I have talked a bit about over the last few years, our family has gone through many transitions that have made health insurance an issue for us.  Prior to April 2012, we participated in a wonderful plan that was offered through the company that my husband worked for.  When we made the decision for my husband to go back to school full time, making me the only one working, we lost that coverage and we became well aware of what healthcare can cost for a family.  Shortly after that we found out that we were pregnant with our third child and my pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition.  We were able to participate with CHIP for our children and then we paid full price for my husband and myself.  It was an astronomical amount of money.  

Since then, it seems like most companies are offering high deductible plans which may not be cost effective for some. It certainly wasn't for us The Marketplace is where you can find plans to compare and find what works best for you.

Since the open enrollment period ends in a matter of days, United Healthcare, our current Insurance provider, has asked me  to offer information and tips to make the best decision - to take the guess work out of the process for those still on the fence about what to do.

The more you know about the Affordable Care Act, the better prepared you'll be to make smart decisions about your coverage. First, learn about what has changed in health care. The ACA has raised the Medicaid limits in some states so more are eligible and is offering subsidies to eligible income levels above medicaid but still in the realm of struggling. See what open enrollment is all about and why it matters to you. Essentially, you need to use the time of open enrollment to get the proper health plan bought and set for your family. Find a plan by February 15th to have coverage from the marketplace in 2015. There are certain qualifying events that allow you to use a special enrollment period. The exchanges or the marketplace is a website that allows you to compare plans from a variety of providers much like Travelocity. This website will be either the government Healthcare.gov website or your state’s individual marketplace website. (The video clips have more details about each of those topics and once the website is live we will have even more tools to learn more from.)

Now you know a little more about health care and why reform matters…now you need to know what exactly you’re buying.

Insurance companies want you to be healthy, and health insurance is actually cheaper for you if you are. That is why preventative care and other measures are being covered by insurance more often now. Health plans are annual and there are only a few ways to switch, whether a major life event occurred or its open enrollment time. It’s important to look at deductibles, co­pays, premiums and maximum out­ of ­pocket as well as the what is covered when comparing health plans. Think about your family and what kinds of things you see doctors for, get prescriptions for, or have operations for. Your health insurance costs can be affected by how much coverage, deductibles, and co­pays you take.

So, you are discovering all of this new information about health care and what’s involved in the shopping process, but it’s only fair that you should know how to get the most out of your health care plan. Costs within health care can be daunting. Check your deductible and out-of-pockets on a regular basis to stay ahead. When deciding on a plan, look for value ads provided by the company such as nurse lines, apps, and health club discounts too! Also, make sure to ask you Doctor how much medical tests will cost and if there are less costly alternatives. Take a few minutes to watch these short videos to find out more.

Visit United Healthcare and UHC TV for more information and videos.

Health insurance is such a huge thing-so important for you as an individual or your family.  I hope that you found this post informative and helpful.

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