If your breakfast today was a candy bar and a cup of coffee, you’re in good company. It’s a great time of year to ignore your inner behavioral economist (shouting about the sunk cost fallacy), and eat that leftover Halloween candy so it “doesn’t go to waste.”
It’s also a great time of year for healthy decisions (financial and otherwise), especially if you have an individual health insurance policy through an exchange, or are enrolled in Medicare.
For Individual Plans under the Affordable Care Act
If you have an individual health insurance plan, open enrollment starts today for the federal and state exchanges, including the Maryland Health Connection.
Medicare Open Enrollment started October 15th (and ends December 7th), which means now is a great time to make sure you are getting the best coverage at the best price.
The vast majority of Medicare participants overspend on Medicare. Most often, that overspending is the result of choosing Medicare Part C and D plans with the lowest premiums, rather than plans with benefits that work the best for an individual’s needs. Often, you won’t realize the full cost of a plan choice (including premiums, copayments, and coinsurance) until it’s too late to change.
The good news? Every plan announces changes to its pricing and benefits each fall. A summary should have been sent to you by your carrier by the end of September. Here are a few important questions to answer once you have the summary:
- Has the cost of any of your prescription medications changed?
- Have you been diagnosed with any major health conditions in the past year?
- Is your carrier still offering Medicare Part C or D plans?
- Have you been happy with the level of customer service from your carrier?
- Are your preferred doctors and hospitals still covered and at what price?
A little time spent reviewing these costs can make a big difference in your health care spending over the coming year.
I’m happy to help with any questions you may have, and I’ll do my best to put you in touch with resources available in your community.
- In Howard County, free one-on-one Medicare counseling is provided through the Office on Aging and Independence and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
- For other counties in Maryland, contact information for your local SHIP office is available here.
- Nationally, counselors can be found through the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center, through the U.S. Administration for Community Living.
Keep in mind, as the deadline for enrollment nears, it’s usually much more difficult to make appointments with these community support services.
Do you have a recommendation for a local health insurance broker or volunteer? Do you have any positive or negative feedback on your search for the health insurance? Please give me a call or send me an email – I’m always on the lookout for good resources to help other people.