The open enrollment period for most companies and for those who buy plans through the Affordable Care Act is about to end. Insurance decisions are particularly challenging for parents. Kids get sick and you never know when your kid will break a bone or have another injury.
Important Health Care Tips for Parents
Before signing up, you need to take several things into consideration. These tips are good anytime you have a change of insurance due to a job loss or change or a change in your marital status.
General Questions to Consider
Most people have a family doctor they like. Before choosing any health plan, make sure your doctor accepts that health insurance plan. You can see how much it would cost to go out-of-network if the plan’s premiums fit your budget.
Parents with children also need to pay attention to the emergency room or urgent care costs. Children catch common diseases from their friends, and sometimes the symptoms show up on a weekend or even overnight. And most children go to the ER at least once in their childhood. MRI’s, blood work and other tests conducted in the ER can be expensive.
Finding the Perfect Employer-Sponsored Plan
Employer-sponsored plans usually offer many options. Unless your employer is paying 100% of the cost, you will have to pick a plan and pay for it, usually through payroll deduction. A plan with lower premiums may cover prescriptions, routine doctor’s visits and screening but have a high deductible you have to pay out of pocket in case of an emergency or hospitalization. Another plan may take more out of your paycheck, but you will pay less out of pocket if you have to be hospitalized or visit an emergency room.
Consider these questions when picking a plan:
- Do my kids play sports and have a high likelihood of an injury that would lead to an ER visit?
- Do any of my kids have a chronic health condition and require numerous doctor visits and prescriptions?
- Do I have savings that can offset medical costs should I pick a plan with a lower premium and fewer benefits?
- Does my spouse’s employer offer a better plan?
Choose carefully. Unless you have a change in family status or change jobs, you are stuck with this plan for a year.
Enrolling in Insurance Through Healthcare.gov
The Affordable Care Act has made insurance available to everyone, but like employer-sponsored insurance, you will need to consider the same questions. Check to see which providers are available in your area. In one Georgia county, only one provider was available for a while. That provider did not have doctors in the local area.
The ACA is divided into plans dubbed Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze plans. These plans are based on coverage and costs with the Platinum Plan having the highest premiums and best coverage.
You may be able to lower your premium on the ACA plans. When you enroll, you will be asked a series of questions about your household income when you enroll to see if you qualify for any discounts. This can help you save money on your monthly premium.
Have you signed up for insurance on the exchanges? What are some of your concerns? Share your health care tips with us in the comments below.