It’s Open Season – er, um – Open Enrollment Time (How to Choose the Right Health Plan for You)

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It strikes me as no coincidence that Fall is both Open Enrollment time for choosing a healthcare insurance plan, and Open Season for hunters.

In both cases, it’s about stalking prey. Right?

So now that I’ve put that vision in your head, it’s time to get a bit more practical. No matter how we feel about having to go through the paces of choosing the right health insurance plan, no matter that we would far prefer to have a tooth pulled or pay taxes, it’s a rite of fall passage that we must take our time with, or risk our lifetime savings if we don’t.

Years ago, I wrote an extensive, but simplified, step-by-step article on how we mere mortals could choose the right healthcare plan for us. But that was in the days before Obamacare / the ACA and as we all know, times have changed mightily since then. As I began to write this post for you, I summoned up those old articles, written at the time for About.com (which no longer exists) – but found them in the “Way Back Machine” on Archive.org. It turns out they are still quite accurate, although they might require some different, more updated resources.

So – here’s a list of useful links that will hopefully make this Open Season – er, um – Open Enrollment period a bit easier for you to figure out:

If you are under the age of 64:

Even if you get your insurance from an employer or some other resource, you still owe it to yourself to be sure that you are maximizing your possibilities for good care while minimizing the cost to you. We’ve all heard about people who buy cheap insurance, only to suffer some sort of accident or episode and end up in bankruptcy.

See if these articles help you choose the right plan for you:

If you are age 65 or older:

Ignorance is Expensive

Then you know you qualify for Medicare – hooray!  Lucky you!

(By the way – anytime I think about choosing a Medicare plan I think back to the discussions of healthcare reform when people picketed with signs saying “Keep the government out of my Medicare” – only illustrating how ignorant they were, because Medicare is 100% a government program which we, as workers, paid into all our lives. it’s our money – administered by the government.)

Of course, just because you have Medicare doesn’t mean you get a pass on choosing the right plan. The choices can be just as confusing. Do you go with straight Medicare?  If so, what does it cover?  What about Medicare Advantage (which sounds great but you know – if it sounds too good to be true, I guarantee it is!)  And what is Medigap insurance? (Which, in my not-so-humble opinion is really the best choice for anyone who can afford it.)

Here are some good articles to help you make the right choices for you:

My only other advice, no matter what age you are, or what choices you have, regards asking for help. There is plenty of good help available – but you’ll want to be careful in your choices. Some of the helpers (called “marketplace navigators before the healthcare law was partially gutted) are trained to help you as volunteers. Others are brokers who work for insurers – so they get paid for “helping” you make your choices. Still others are privately paid, but work independently and are not paid for the plans they help you choose.

You can find local help here: Find Local Help

And private help here:  AdvoConnection

So yes, it’s time to get to work!  Open Enrollment ends in early December, and you’ll have too much to do around holiday time to tend to it, and to do it well.

 

Do you find you have additional questions?  If so, post them here, and we’ll see if we can find resources for you.

 

Find a Health / Patient Advocate or Navigator
Learn more about AdvoConnection and The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates

 
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