Last week the country reported record breaking numbers of corona virus infection cases. While millions face unemployment and the expiration of their health insurance coverage, exploring your healthcare options has never been more critical and perfectly timed. In fact, you can enroll in or change 2021 Marketplace health insurance right now. The 2021 Open Enrollment Period runs from Sunday, November 1, 2020 to Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Thinking about what to do? I’ve got you covered.
If you are employed that’s great news because employers are adding more health plans to their benefits packages. During this pandemic employers are recognizing the importance of health benefits now more than ever. Therefore, less employees will see any reduction in their health care benefits. If your employer offers multiple plans choose the plan that best aligns with your healthcare needs and finances. Even if you are pleased with your insurance plan still review it in the event any features have changed.
For those who are pretty healthy your plans may usually carry a high deductible which is usually combined with a health savings account (HSA), which has lower premiums. In order to qualify for a HSA your deductible must be $1,400.00 for a single person and $2,800.00 for a family. The tax benefits of a HSA is that contributions are pretax or payments are tax deductible for plans that are not employer-sponsored. Money in the account grows tax deferred and withdrawals are tax-free for qualified medical expenses.
Pay attention to Details
You may have co-payments of a fixed amount for various services or you may have co-insurance which requires you to pay a certain percentage of each visit. Review and calculate your annual out of pocket health care spending and add to that number your annual premiums. This will give you a good sense of what your health care cost may be in 2021.
Further, if dental and vision are considered options determine whether the premium is worth paying. Generally, pediatric dental and vision for kids are often included in your core health care policies and therefore children may not need coverage outside your standard health insurance plan.
If you are self-employed or unemployed and looking for work your best option is in the individual market unless you use COBRA which may extend your previous employer’s health benefit. However, you will have to pay your premium and that of your employer.
Additionally, you can explore the health care exchange at www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage. Once there, you can select your state from the menu, as some states manage their own health care exchange. If your income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level then you are eligible for a tax credit which will reduce your policy premiums. In most states you may qualify for a subsidy towards your 2021 plan if your income is as high as $51,040 for a single person, $68,960 for a family of two and $104,800 for a family of four.
For retired individuals, Medicare’s annual open enrollment began October 15, 2020 and will end on December 7, 2020. During this period you have a number of options including changing from a traditional government run Medicare, to an all in one Medicare Advantage plan administered by a private insurer. Also, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B will increase from $144.60 this year to $148.50 in 2021.
In the midst of a global pandemic, flu season, communities with underlying health disparities, rising health care costs, and unemployment don’t ignore open enrollment.