Factors to consider when shopping for a new health insurance plan during open enrollment

Open enrollment, when people can sign up for health insurance or change their insurance plan, begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.

Price is just one factor to consider when choosing whether to go with a new health plan. There’s also: Co pays, deductibles, network coverage and whether telehealth is included.

“The great thing about healthcare.gov and the plan selector is that it enables you to really compare plans side by side,” said Consumers for Quality Care board member Jason Resendez. “It’s really figuring out what’s important to you, and then seeing what plans align to those priorities for you and your family.”

Some issues new this year to be aware of — nearly three quarters of the largest health plans across the country are no longer waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment.

Telehealth has become a lifeline for many Americans during the pandemic, according to Resendez, who said 70% of people who have used telehealth services say they are likely to continue using it after the pandemic ends.

But some insurers are rolling back telehealth coverage.

A new law taking effect in 2022 will help protect people from “surprise billing,” when people get charged for out-of-network providers, such as anesthesiologists, at in-network facilities.

“Until then, it’s really important to be aware of potential surprise bills, knowing what’s in network what’s out of network and read that bill,” Resendez said.

Being double billed or charged exorbitant prices for items such wet wipes are things people should look out for and speak up about, Resendez said.

“It’s important to know that you have a voice and you have to use that voice, and sometimes that means pushing back on things,” Resendez said. “We’ve seen many instances of these bills either being reduced or being waived completely.”

Resendez strongly encourages people to avoid short term insurance plans. They go under lots of names such as short-term, limited-duration, or short-term duration plan; there are different variations, but that “short-term” phrase is really the part to watch out for.

“These are really junk plans,” he said. “These are plans that look great on paper because they have a low monthly premiums, but they often have dollar value limits on covered services or come with high deductibles and often exclude preexisting conditions. So things like hypertension, or even pregnancy can be excluded from these plans,” Resendez warned.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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