Shopping for health insurance?  Here's what you should keep in mind

Shopping for health insurance? Here’s what you should keep in mind

TRI-CITIES, Wash. –It’s that time of year again, no, not the holidays, it’s Open Enrollment on the Washington Health Plan Finder, that’s when anyone can shop for health insurance coverage that suits your needs.

“What I always tell people to consider the three C’s,” Michael Marchand, Chief Marketing Officer of Washington Health Benefit Exchange said.

The first ‘C,’ is cost.

“Have a good understanding of obviously financially what you might be able to afford and understand there might be programs for you to reduce your financial needs. Think about, not just how much the premium is but how much healthcare do you use throughout the year? How often do you go to the doctor? That’s particularly important like if you have children,” Marchand said.

The second ‘C,’ is coverage.

“What benefits do they have? What’s in there? Is there like mental health benefits or preventive services?”

Merchant said you should take your personal or families’ needs, like small children, or any ongoing health conditions, or prescriptions, when shopping for a plan into account.

The third C? Convenience.

“Can I see the doctor I like? Is the network good? Is it near my home or my office depending where I like to go and seek services?” Merchant said these are questions you should ask yourself while looking on the marketplace.

The last thing you’d want, is a healthcare plan with in-network providers, miles away.

There’s also a handy tool on WA Health Plan Finder, called Smart Plan Finder.

“It will take you through a series of questions: how much would you like to pay? Are there any medications that you like to use? Is there a specific doctor you like to see? And it will generate the list of those plans,” that way you can cater the criteria to your needs.

There’s also some terms you should know while shopping for a plan, like premium and deductible.

“The premium is just that first payment to secure your coverage, the deductible is the part of services, is the amount you will pay up to that,” Marchand explained.

There’s also out-of-pocket maximum, which is the most you’ll pay in a year until your plan starts covering 100 percent of eligible costs.

Merchant said there’s also help available for people who qualify as low income, and other situations.

Marchand said the pandemic taught a lot of people how important their health and staying healthy is.

“People started to realize, wow my health is kind of important, like making sure I have coverage is kind of important,” he said.

He also said telehealth is becoming a key part of health insurance plans, since most people are more apt to keep virtual appointments.

Marchand advised people to do their homework before choosing a plan, and said you have nothing to loose just by checking the plan finder out. Open enrollment ends on January 15th, but Merchant advised you should purchase an insurance plan by December 15th, to ensure it kicks in, in the new year.

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