2022 Health Insurance Enrollment: Important Financial Tips
2022 Health Insurance Enrollment: Important Financial Tips
For most Americans, open enrollment for affordable 2022 Marketplace health insurance plans ends January 15, 2022. A Special Enrollment Period only exists for people who experience a qualifying event that impacts coverage, such as a wedding, new baby or job loss, and those eligible for low income and other medical assistance programs. Since costs associated with a health insurance plan selection can have a negative impact on financial health, it's important to choose a plan carefully.
Before you pick one of the plans made available to you at Healthcare.gov, follow these easy steps to protect your health and financial well-being:
Speak with Your Healthcare Providers
Believe it or not, many people sign up for a plan without ever checking if all of their healthcare providers accept it. Even if your primary care physician accepts the plan, you might learn that the closest hospital or pharmacy doesn't accept it. Certain special providers, such as diagnostic centers, surgeons, physical therapists and medical equipment retailers, might also not accept it.
Additionally, speaking with healthcare providers can help you choose a plan based on more than in-network and out-of-network considerations. Plenty of providers actually make insurance recommendations, especially if they feel that one plan offers them and their patients more benefits than other available options. A lot of upheaval in the healthcare industry is also taking place because of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many hospital acquisitions and mergers. One or more of your providers might alert you to a change that hasn't been made public yet that could adversely impact you depending on the type of health insurance you have down the line.
Investigate Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Even if the majority of healthcare providers accept a specific plan, you might discover after signup that your new healthcare coverage requires a higher out-of-pocket obligation. For example, you might learn that physical therapy co-payments are higher per visit or that the plan doesn't allow you to buy several months of a prescription medication at one time at a discounted amount. You might learn that certain types of medical equipment or dental and vision services aren't covered at all. For these and other reasons, it's important to compare your current plan to the plans available in the 2022 Marketplace. If necessary, call each insurance company and ask them for a detailed coverage description in writing.
Of course, these areas aren't the only ones you must consider for new out-of-pocket expenses. If you can't find a plan accepted by everyone, then you might have to seek care from one or more new healthcare providers. As a result, you might need to travel further, which increases your transportation expenses. For example, you might need to pay more for fuel and vehicle maintenance or public transportation. You should also find out as much as possible about telemedicine services. Many telemedicine healthcare providers demand payment at the time of service and some insurers only cover telemedicine for certain scenarios.
Research Alternative Coverage Options
The 2022 Marketplace system sometimes doesn't recommend medical assistance to people who qualify, which means that you should also contact your local health and human services or assistance office. Medical assistance is available to people who have low incomes and also certain workers with disabilities. Although quality of care and provider availability can vary widely across the country and often lean toward negative outcomes, medical assistance provides an emergency safety net for those who can't afford Marketplace plans.
If you find a plan, you might still not know how you're going to afford higher out-of-pocket expenses, especially in light of increasing pandemic-related costs and inflation. A lot of healthcare providers offer installment payment and financing options, including discounts to patients that pay their balances immediately in cash. For this reason, you might also consider setting up a healthcare investment savings account. In retail environments, you might ask about alternative coverage and payment options. For example, pharmacists usually accept manufacturer's product coupons and know about prescription savings options. Pharmaceutical companies sometimes work with patients to cover costs for certain types of medications and state pharmaceutical assistance plans also exist.
You don't need to settle for just any plan when picking health insurance coverage to start on February 1, 2022. If you pick a plan too quickly, you might become stuck with high monthly premiums, an outrageous deductible, lack of coverage for some of your providers and a lot more out-of-pocket expenses. Yet, with a little patience and research, you can find the best health coverage options that also offer benefits that can improve your financial health.
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