Friday, November 30, 2018

Health Insurance Updates- Important Deadlines

Hi all,

I pledged to try and keep folks updated on any vital news that comes my way about health care and health insurance coverages.

The thing to know right now, is that our current administration has cut outreach funding & efforts for health insurance signups by a whopping 90% this year. Unsurprisingly, enrollments for plans available on the healthcare exchange have gone down this year, according to this report by NPR, since a lot of people may not be aware of their options.

The brief takeaway is this: If you don't get health insurance through your HR department at work, you'll have until December 15 this year to pick a plan on Healthcare.gov.

In Oregon, our local Exchange is healthcare.oregon.gov.

This revamped State of OR site will walk you through questions that can help you determine what coverage you need, whether you are eligible for the Oregon Health Plan, and whether you need to update or renew your information for the year.

If you have questions or need help in sorting through options, you can also visit: localhelp.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

If you are NOT purchasing a plan on the Federal Exchange, but instead are purchasing through your State's Exchange, there are several states with extended deadlines for signups:

  • California – January 15, 2019
  • Colorado – January 15, 2019
  • D.C. – January 31, 2019
  • Massachusetts – January 23, 2019
  • Minnesota – January 13, 2019
  • New York – January 31, 2019
  • Rhode Island – January 31, 2019
Navigators are encouraging people to review options for health care coverage this year even if you weren't thinking about changing your insurance plan, as rates and benefits have changed in many areas, and you may be able to find a lower rate.

Now, for a few caveats:

Be aware that health care signup scams are more active at this time of year. Don't fall for phone calls or emails trying to get you to sign up through a specialized service- you can sign up yourself, for free, for any health care plan, public or private. If you have any doubts, don't hesitate to contact your potential insurance plan directly. 

If you do speak to a health care Navigator, keep in mind that current rules have also encouraged Federally-connected helpers to promote shorter-term plans with more limited coverage (aka so-called "catastrophic coverage" plans). These plans can be less expensive, but often don't cover a lot of basic services such as preventative wellness visits- or even pre-existing conditions- while more traditional plans will. 

It's important to take your time to fully understand what any specific plan covers, what amounts are paid out, and what your cost liability will be (such as amount of deductible that must be paid out-of-pocket before the health insurance kicks in). Knowing in advance can make a lot of difference in your ability to use your health care coverage, and avoid costly problems in future.