Choosing the right health insurance plan can be tricky. Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon president offered advice to help.
PORTLAND, Oregon – Signing up for health insurance can be overwhelming. It can be confusing to choose the right plan; whether open enrollment is imminent at work or someone turns 26 and will soon be kicked out of their parent’s insurance.
Angela Dowling, president of Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon, offered tips to help people navigate the process.
“If COVID has taught us anything: we’re not invincible,” Dowling said. “And so people have to plan for the occasions when they might need extra help in the healthcare space.”
For many, health insurance goes through their employer during open enrollment. It’s a window that opens once a year, often in the fall, when people can buy health insurance, change their current plan, or cancel it.
“Open enrollment happens for every employer at different times of the year. However, about 70% of them open enrollment in the fourth quarter. So the timing is good,” Dowling said. good to think about your benefit needs and health care needs at this time.”
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Open enrollment is a familiar place for many, but for young adults it’s a whole new world and faced health insurance decisions happen quickly.
“They have to make a decision, probably for the first time in their lives, about insurance and it’s confusing,” Dowling said.
As students move on to college, most will need to have health insurance at their school of choice. Many will offer their own health plan.
“When your student goes to college, if you have health insurance for your dependents, including your student, you don’t need to enroll in the college plan. Keep that in mind. It could reduce your expenses if your student goes to college,” Dowling said.
Being dependent on a parent’s insurance, however, only lasts for a limited time. Young people have the option of remaining on their parents’ plan, as a dependent, until age 26. Even with a full-time job, many people stay on their parents’ plan. When birthday month rolls around, however, future 26-year-olds must opt out and get their own coverage.
“When that dependent accesses their own plan, they must either switch to their current employer’s plan and/or get an individual plan that they can get in the market,” Dowling said. “A producer or an agent can help them get that coverage or they can go to the exchange and secure that coverage themselves.”
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When it comes time to choose a plan, Dowling suggests taking the time to weigh the options and think about how health care has been used in the past.
“If you’ve had a high number of claims because you have a condition that requires you to see doctors frequently or take medication, think about how you want to continue your future health care expenses. It helps you decide what kind of plan do you really decide to take into account your health condition,” Dowling said.
Also consider the provider and whether they belong to the operator’s network.
“There are no pre-existing conditions. So if you want to switch providers you absolutely can, but you need to make sure that if you go to a specialist or a particular provider that you are very interested in or have a relationship with, that [the] the individual is in the network and is reimbursed at the level you can afford,” Dowling said.
Another tip is to consider the type of plan. There are several different types, each with advantages and disadvantages depending on a person’s situation.
“Return to your original situation. If you have a chronic condition, this might not be a good plan for you, but it really depends on how much your employers contribute to the plan. So, maybe the cost of the monthly premium is offset by this cost of the deductible? Dowling said.
Yes, choosing a plan can be overwhelming, but there are in-person and online resources to help people sift through the confusion.
Here are some online resources:
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