In today’s fast-paced world, consumers come to expect certain efficiencies with their service providers. From bundling services and billing to setting up automatic payment and policy renewals, you expect engagements to be simplified. When it comes to insurance coverage, you might presume to take the same approach and elect to renew your current health insurance policy without review. And if you’ve spent the last year being healthy, you might feel like your plans don’t need evaluating. But there are reasons to re-evaluate your health insurance annually and hit pause on that auto-renew until you do.
Your Healthcare Needs Change
When you originally signed up for health insurance, you chose a plan based on your needs at the time. You selected a plan that worked with your health providers as in-network and your budget. But throughout the year, your needs may have changed, and so should your health insurance.
Qualifying Life Event Changes
Qualifying life events are life situations that insurance companies recognize as an authorization for a special enrollment period. If you have experienced a life change within the last year, it warrants a review of your current health insurance plans. Some of these qualifying life events include welcoming a new baby to the family, losing a job, and getting married.
Health Provider Changes
You may have been with the same doctors or general practitioners for years. But sometimes health organizations make changes to their policies, unbeknownst to you. For example, the insurance provider you have now may no longer be accepted by your organization. Such a change could translate to higher costs to you since your regular doctor is out-of-network. Alternatively, it could be that your favorite physician retires, and you’re faced with choosing a new doctor. Both of these scenarios will present an opportunity for you to make revisions to your current health insurance plan.
A Need for New Healthcare Providers
The health insurance plan you selected earlier in the year may not offer what you need today. It could be that you’ve experienced a few health concerns in recent months and now need routine visits with a specialist. Family dynamics shift, too, and it’s not uncommon for people to seek out help from counselors or mental health professionals to assist with a troubled teen family member or cope with depression. Because the healthcare professional help you need may change, it’s important to make sure your health insurance plan is tailored to meet those new needs.
Your Financial Situation Changes
If you have experienced changes to your pay or within the family dynamics of your household, it’s worth re-evaluating your health insurance plans.
You Earn More Money
If over the last year, you took a pay raise, any discount benefits to your premiums that you qualified for when you first enrolled in your Marketplace health insurance might be affected. Maybe you have the same job but took on a side hustle to supplement your income. Or it could be you have a jump in household income because of your spouse’s part-time job. If your health insurance is unaddressed, you could not only lose those discounts to your premiums, but you could also end up owing money. Re-evaluating your plans annually can help you keep your reported incomes realistic and coordinating discounts correctly.
You Took a Pay Cut
This year has hit many businesses hard. There are countless employers who, in an effort to stay in business, chose to reduce pay among some of their staff members. If you took a pay cut or a reduction in overall income, you could qualify for additional Marketplace premium benefits. Re-evaluate your health insurance plan and see what the benchmarks are for income thresholds.
Other Household Finance Changes
Direct pay increases or reductions aren’t the only circumstances that affect household incomes. It’s worth re-evaluating your health insurance plans if other household events have occurred that may change your financial position. For example, maybe you’re taking in an elderly family member or are temporarily caring for another family member’s child. Your expenses may be impacted, and your monthly budget allowances may shift. Or you may find coverage plans specific to the changing event, like adding a new member to the plan.
The Insurance Plans Change
Don’t assume that by automatically renewing your health plan means you’ll be awarded the same coverage you signed up for the previous year. Health insurance providers make significant and subtle changes to their plans, and it’s worth looking into to see how those policy changes might affect your coverage.
Available Health Insurance Plans Get Better
The health insurance plan you selected earlier in the year may have been the most comprehensive or most affordable at the time. But in the Marketplace, there are often additions and changes to plans, meaning there could be a better plan out there now. Reviewing your coverage annually will help you stay on top of identifying better deals and provisions.
Your Current Plan May Not Be Cost Efficient Anymore
Costs and allowances change at the insurance level all the time. What made sense to your finances and budget several months ago may no longer be cost efficient now. Follow up with your current provider and make sure you understand what the costs and premiums are moving forward. You can then make sure that the plan you select continues to be the most cost-efficient plan for your current financial situation.
The Federal Guidelines Change
Changes happen at your personal level and at the health insurance provider level. But there can also be federal guideline shifts that enact changes to plans and participation mandates. You probably don’t have the extra time to stay up on the government rules for Marketplace insurance. But evaluating your selected plan annually will ensure you are aware of any new mandates that may translate to changes at your level of coverage.
The Open Enrollment Period for 2021 Marketplace coverage is just around the corner. Get ready to renew, update, and make changes to your health insurance plans, beginning November 1, 2020, and through December 15, 2020. And don’t assume your coverage from last year will suffice for next year. Get in the habit of reviewing your health insurance plans annually to ensure you’re covered with the best plans for your needs. When you need expert shopping guidance to navigate the Marketplace options, and at no extra cost, you can get health coverage on W3LL.
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