Individuals renewing or buying health insurance for 2018 should ask four questions before selecting a plan.
For individuals buying a health plan on the New York State of Health marketplace, the open enrollment period runs through Jan. 31, 2018, but you will have to buy a plan by Dec. 15 for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2018.
“It’s important to ask several questions before purchasing a health plan, including whether services and treatments important to you are covered,” said Marya Vande-Doyle, of Palmyra, director of workplace wellness and telemedicine for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Here are questions to consider when selecting a plan.
Will the plan cover my prescriptions? Make sure your medications, including maintenance drugs and contraceptives, are covered by the insurer. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, for example, covers more than 50 prescription contraceptives.
“Access to contraceptives and other family planning services over the past century has helped to dramatically improve the health of women, children and families,” said Vande-Doyle, who also runs the Wayne County-based charity, The Green Angels, which benefits children and young moms. “But you shouldn’t assume that your new insurer will cover your prescriptions, which is why we’re urging people to take certain steps before selecting a plan.”
Does my doctor accept the plan? Ask your doctors if they accept the insurance you are considering.
What if I can’t see my doctor? Ask if the plan covers emergency care anywhere in the world. You may also want to inquire whether the plan has a telemedicine program that provides 24/7 access to a doctor by phone or video chat when you have a minor health issue and can’t see your physician.
Can I get financial help? You may be eligible for financial help based on your household income and size. Or, you could qualify for the Essential Plan for $20 or less a month. Individuals earning less than $48,240 and a family of four earning less than $98,400 could qualify for a discount. Visit chooseexcellus.com/ZeroOption to see if you qualify.
The new federal deadline does not apply to New York residents since the state has its own marketplace. The federal government is ending its open enrollment early this year on Dec. 15.
For information, go to nystateofhealth.ny.gov, ChooseExcellus.com/ZeroOption or call us at (888) 370-7098.