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2014 brought a lot of health plan usage to our family and I was so thankful to have health insurance. One thing I realized was that I didn’t completely understand my health plan or the Affordable Care Act and I knows others don’t too.
Over the past 6 months I had to be hospitalized twice, once was after having a major surgery and the other was from complications due to the surgery. I don’t talk about it much because I’m thankfully much better now, and because I had health insurance. I think having health insurance really aided in my recovery because I was able to focus on getting better and not worrying about the financial aspect of being ill.
I know that health insurance isn’t the most exciting thing to talk about. It can even be confusing… but I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be confusing and that being prepared makes staying healthy easier.
Since the Affordable Care Act started I’ve really been looking into my insurance options and I’ve learned that the more you know about the the Affordable Care Act the better prepared you’ll be to make smart decisions about your coverage. Thankfully there are a lot of resources to help us understand it all better, but here is a quick recap.
ACA is all about helping more people get access to affordable health insurance. The Act also guarantees coverage for pre-existing health conditions, and financial assistance for those who qualify. This may include savings on your health insurance premiums via a tax credit or a government program, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare.
Now let’s get a bit deeper.
The first thing you need to learn about is what has changed in health care.
The ACA has raised the Medicaid limits in some states so more people are eligible along with offering subsidies to eligible income levels above medicaid, but still in the realm of struggling. Although this doesn’t apply to my family I know that this is a huge help to others.
Secondly, you need to understand 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. Open enrollment is between Nov 15 and Feb 15. During this time you have to pick a plan in order to have coverage from the 2015. There are certain qualifying events that allow you to use a special enrollment period. When we adopted The Little One I remember that we then qualified for a special enrollment period. There are other events that can qualify you too.
Lastly you need to know about exchanges and marketplaces… they are where you can learn about, compare and purchase plans.
The exchanges or the marketplace are websites that allows you to compare plans from a variety of providers much like Travelocity does for travel. The websites will be either the government Healthcare.gov website or your state’s individual marketplace website.
I started on the government website and it directed me to my state exchange.
The process is pretty straightforward with directions every step of the way. Even though I currently have insurance I still wanted to see what options were out there for me and my family… especially once I learned that 87% of health insurance exchange applicants saved $250 a month or more on their health insurance last year. That is a huge savings! Can you imagine what you could do with that extra money each month?
After you understand more you will want to know how you can get the most from your health care plan.
Since costs within health care can be daunting. You will want to 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 your Doctor how much medical tests will cost and if there are less costly alternatives. You can also take a few minutes to watch these short videos to find out more.
Be sure to learn more about available Health care plans now since open enrollment ends soon on February 15th.
Have you looked at your health care plan options recently?