Health insurance plans, coverage options and regulations change every year, and this year is no different. Long & Foster Insurance’s Keith Garrison, a benefits specialist and insurance manager for 22 years, offered six things to keep in mind when selecting your 2019 health coverage.
- Next year brings a significant change to healthcare.
“The big change next year, obviously, is that the mandate to have health insurance is removed,” Garrison said. “So if you don’t buy it then you won’t be fined by the government.”
- Make sure you know when open enrollment begins and ends.
Medicare open enrollment is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and changes that you make to your plan will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. If you have an individual health plan, open enrollment is from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
- Not all plans are created equal.
“You’ll see a lot of plan options out there that don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and have limited benefits,” Garrison said. “That’s the kind of stuff that pulls people in. They think it’s cheaper and that they should buy it, but it’s cheaper for a reason.”
- Short-term medical plans have been extended.
Short-term medical plans were previously only available for three months at a time and will now be available for up to 12 months. They are significantly less expensive than ACA plans, but they also don’t cover pre-existing conditions or maternity care, and can have high deductibles.
- Look at online feedback for the insurance company offering the plan.
“Google the name of the insurance company, make sure they’re reputable,” Garrison said. “Some companies don’t really care what their representatives tell consumers to sell them the policy. People are buying policies thinking that they offer full major medical coverage when they really don’t.”
- Be thorough in your research.
Especially if you’re considering plans that are outside of the Healthcare.gov exchange and don’t have to meet the requirements of the ACA. Being educated about what each plan does and doesn’t include can help you make an informed choice. Using a cost-estimator tool to compare plan costs can help, too.
“As much time as you spend on buying a house, why wouldn’t you want to spend the same amount of time on properly insuring your health,” Garrison said. “Look at the options and compare the costs. Take the time to do your research. Take the time to ask the questions.”