Open enrollment for health insurance coverage for 2017 is right around the corner. After working with this health insurance enrollment program for a few years, we’ve found there are some actions you can take to make the process easier. Here are 3 tips to make health insurance enrollment easier, more accurate, and better for you.
First, self-reporting changes in information will make your health insurance enrollment more accurate.
There are two main factors for whether or not you are eligible for a subsidy, or credit, applied to your monthly health insurance cost. 1. Your yearly earnings, and 2. the number of people in your household. You have the opportunity to self-report changes in these areas to the Health Insurance Marketplace.
When you started your coverage for 2016, you had to estimate what you were going to make this year. The estimate may have been accurate, or it may have been more or less than what you actually will earn this year. Now is a good time to self-report an accurate figure of your earnings for 2016, if it was off.
Also, changes in your household help factor your insurance cost, so you should self-report any changes to the number of people in your household. For example, you may have had a child partway through the year, which will change your marketplace policy by the addition of a new member into your household. This will also change what you need to pay monthly.
** Please remember, what you tell the Health Insurance Marketplace will need to match your tax reporting for the year. **
Know Your Enroller
Who your enroller is can make a big difference in the ease of your health insurance enrollment too.
There are full-time health insurance enrollers and part-time volunteer enrollers for the Marketplace. I bring this up because we’ve had a number of people visit our insurance agency, which is open for business year-around, asking for help with their Marketplace health insurance policy. They signed up with a volunteer enroller…who is no longer available.
The insurance coverage you receive will be the same in both cases. But if you have questions throughout the year, you need to consider if you’ll be able to find your part-time enroller to help you when you need it. They won’t be there in the middle of May when you need your coverages explained.
Also, the training and experience of your enroller is different with a full-time enroller. A licensed insurance agent in the state of Virginia has to complete the federal educational course on the Marketplace each year. A volunteer enroller also has a similar federal training program. However, as a licensed agent, I have to complete continuing education coursework on an annual basis to maintain my license. I also have more experience with explaining your coverages and answering those questions that do come up throughout the year.
Additionally, consider the importance of your Protected Health Information, such as your address, phone number, email, date of birth, social security number, etc. You need to give permission for your enroller to have your protected health information and also to contact you in the future via phone, email, or mail. Wouldn’t you rather have this information kept on file with a licensed insurance agent? It’s something to think about when choosing your health insurance enroller.
Know Your Coverage
It is so important to know your health insurance coverage. During your health insurance enrollment, make sure to have your deductibles and monthly cost explained. But you also want to see your coverage for emergency room visits, prescription drugs, physical therapy, etc.
I always make sure to explain these to my clients, and that the deductible cost will be their first out of pocket expense. I commonly use the idea that healthcare is the castle. To get there, you have to build a deductible bridge dollar by dollar.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is not a perfect system and continues to change each year. To work with it, you should have a licensed insurance agent, like myself, who has been working with this program since its beginning three years ago.
Hopefully these 3 tips will make your health insurance enrollment easier, more accurate, and better for you. Please contact us if you have questions. We’ll be here throughout the year to answer your questions.