Ensuring you have the best, most affordable health insurance
We love the holidays. In between sipping hot chocolate and holiday shopping, we highly
recommend you reevaluate your health plan. Just like updating your wardrobe or getting your oil changed, your health plan needs to be examined once a year.
Why? Let’s look at five reasons.
1. You might save money.
One of the reasons it’s vital to reevaluate your health plan every year is because you might save money.
The first reason you might save money is insurance carriers come out with new products and options all the time. There might be a better plan tailored to your unique health situation.
Secondly, your health situation may have changed and you may need a different kind of coverage. You’ll need to search for a better tailored health plan to reduce your healthcare spending.
And lastly, plan prices increase! You’ll want to evaluate the extra cost and see if there is a more affordable plan.
Most people pay too much for health insurance. Now is the time to make sure that person isn’t you.
2. Networks can change from year to year.
Networks consistently change meaning your favorite doctor or hospital may not be in-network next year. But how will you know? By looking at your health plan every year, of course.
Healthcare reform has brought even more network changes than in years past, so check to make sure your doctors and favorite hospital is still in network. You will also want to evaluate the new options that have come on the market that may be even better for you and your family. For example, there might be a new, more limited network that is more cost effective for your situation.
We know how frustrating it is to discover a favorite provider no longer takes your insurance. You can make sure this doesn’t happen to you by reevaluating your health plan now.
3. The price of medication(s) may increase.
The price of your medications may increase because drug coverage can change from year to year. To avoid being stuck with a really high ticket price for your prescriptions, it’s necessary to reevaluate your health plan every year to see if coverage has changed and if there’s a better option available.
If you take a lot of prescription drugs or even one expensive one, it’s a good idea to look at your health plan during Open Enrollment (happening now). Prescription drug costs can vary drastically from year to year, especially when it comes to Medicare. No need to pay more than you need to for drugs or be surprised in 2016 when you visit the pharmacy.
There are plenty of other ways to save on prescription drugs, but one way might be to switch health plans. Make sure you look at your health plan every year to ensure the cost of prescriptions hasn’t increased and there isn’t a better option for you.
4. Your subsidy amount may have changed.
The amount of your subsidy, or assistance from the government to help pay for your premiums, will change according to your income. Maybe you qualify for a subsidy next year, but didn’t this year. Or maybe the same plan will cost less next year because you qualify for a bigger subsidy.
Beware! If your income has changed, you are required to update your information. Otherwise, you might owe taxes. For example, let’s say you claimed that you were going to make $25,000 next year, but actually ending up landing a job and making $50,000. If you received a subsidy, you will have to pay back the amount you received. Check out this post to determine how much you will owe.
Subsidies are just another reason why it’s vital to reevaluate your health coverage once a year.
5. You may have a big life event that enables you to change your health plan outside of Open Enrollment.
Are you getting married in 2016? Divorced? Possibly growing your family? Quitting a job and pursuing your dream?
It’s not a straightforward process of just selecting a new plan or continuing on with your current one. It’s vital to look at costs and networks and compare plans when you are expecting what is known as a “qualifying event” in the coming year.
A quick note here: Open Enrollment is the only time you can change your health plan unless you have a qualifying event. This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1st through January 31st. For example, if you have a baby in April of 2016 you can reevaluate your health plan then.
Be a savvy healthcare consumer and reevaluate your health plan. And after you do, you can go back to singing your favorite holiday songs.
Avery Brandes is a Team Member at Bernard Health, a company that provides non-commissioned, expert advice on health insurance, Medicare, COBRA, and medical bill consulting. Founded in 2006 in Nashville, TN, Bernard Health’s mission is to be the world’s most trusted advisor when it comes to helping people plan for their healthcare. With three retail locations in Nashville, and across 4 other states, Bernard Health helps individuals and families evaluate all their options, including government ones.