Open Enrollment Save money, get the right plan

ACA Open Enrollment Mistakes to Avoidand Save Money at the same time

Before launching into the healthcare sign-up process, understand how the policies work. 

The Affordable Care Act brought health insurance to the forefront, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily any smarter about how we use our policies. Everyone who has health insurance, whether it’s from a private or government marketplace, should take care to avoid these common missteps.

1) Not focusing on the big picture. 

The most common mistake people make when buying health plans is only looking at premiums and deductibles, (For those who are new to paying for your own health insurance, the premium is your monthly payment; the deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying before your plan takes over and pays all or most of the costs.)

2) Not learning how your policy works. 

Health insurance is confusing, particularly when it comes to in-network pricing. But if you don’t try to learn how your policy works, you risk spending more than you need to – possibly far more.

a) For example, a hospital may be in your network, but the doctor you’re seeing there may not be, so you’d be charged out-of-network prices, which are generally higher than in-network prices, for that doctor’s services.

b) Don’t forget to take advantage of your health plan’s perks, like gym membership reimbursements or free smoking cessation programs.

3) Not reporting changes to your insurer. 

This is not a mistake people currently make, but many people will in the future if they aren’t careful. Now that there’s a government marketplace for insurance through the ACA, you need to report any major changes to your income or household size to the marketplace where you bought your health insurance policy.

a) For example, if you purchase insurance using tax credits and you end up making more money during the year than what you estimated when you qualified for tax credits, you could end up having to pay some or all of it back when you file your taxes. Conversely, if you have a new baby or your income decreases at some point during your policy, you could qualify for additional tax credits that will help you pay your monthly premium for the remainder of your policy.

4) Not bothering to consult your insurer when you have questions.

The top mistake individuals make is not calling their insurance agent customer service team when they have questions regarding their coverage. The most common issues, including not having a prior authorization to see a specialist or visiting an out-of-network provider, can cost an individual more or may not be covered at all. Individuals should talk with the experts provided by their insurance company.

5) Over insuring yourself. 

It’s understandable if you do. You may plan on using your health insurance fairly often, and the last thing you want is a string of unpleasant billing surprises. So why not simply insure yourself for everything and go for a high premium and the lowest deductible possible?

a) It may work, of course, but be sure to crunch the numbers first. A lot of people lose money every year by covering themselves for services they don’t need.

b) It’s almost like buying food at the grocery that you don’t like simply because it’s on sale and you want to save money, but then you end up throwing it away. There’s no cost savings in that.

6) Getting Insurance Guidance

a) Pick an agency that has been in business a long time, is local to your area, and is able to provide you with a quote from more than one insurance carrier. (In example Thomas & Associates which has been in business 45 years since 1970)

b) Agent/Brokers make purchasing health insurance easy. When you work through a Broker to purchase health insurance coverage, you explain the needs of you or your company – and your Broker takes it from there. No need to complete multiple requests for quotes, compare policies, reach out to multiple individuals with questions about those policies – or anything else. Your Broker is your one point of contact and will manage all of this for you – speeding up the process and making it easy for you to make an informed decision about your personal or company’s health insurance.