The latest numbers say that more than 1 million consumers have already selected plans through healthcare.gov. More than 2 million have submitted applications. Still, shopping for health insurance is not for the light of heart. It is serious business. To make an informed and reasonable choice requires an understanding of how health insurance works and what different policies cover, matched to an individual’s projected health care expenses for the coming year. At its base, it is a contract and only what is in the contract is covered.
Americans who are either without health insurance or had purchased a plan through one of the Exchanges are in the middle of another open enrollment period. It’s the third time for many through this process. This open enrollment period began November 15 and runs through January 31, 2016. For a plan to be effective on January 1, 2016 however, that plan must be purchased by December 15.
Because of significant changes in premium and out of pocket costs most are suggesting that people shop around rather than simply renew a policy they’ve already had. Benefits covered and the network of health care providers covered in different plans are also subject to change from year to year. This too suggests a careful review of plan details.
As insurers vie for more customers, and more healthy customers, this volatility of prices and benefits is likely going to be part of the fabric of this new insurance market. The good news is that less expensive plans can be found. A new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis found that in 73% of counties, healthcare.gov enrollees could lower their silver level premiums by shopping around
For a more personal side to this with real life stories, see the NY Times article on the “…New Seasonal Stress.”