Are you signing up for health insurance for the first time? The Open Enrollment period started on Nov. 15, 2014. This is when individuals and families can shop for and enroll in a new health plan on the Marketplace.
If you know which health plan you want to purchase, you can go directly to the health insurer’s website to start the process. But if you don’t know which health insurer to choose, head to the Marketplace. Here you’ll be able to compare plans and learn which plans best meet your needs.
If you’ve never enrolled in health insurance before, then the process might seem complicated. But don’t be intimidated, just follow these three steps and you’ll be covered in no time.
Step 1: Create an account and apply.
The first step to signing up for health insurance is simple: Create a Marketplace account online at HealthCare.gov and submit an application. This application includes information about household members, income, current health coverage, and more. This is used to determine what coverage options you qualify for and if you’re eligible for the Advance Premium Tax Credit or other financial assistance to help pay for your coverage.
To make the application process as smooth as possible, make sure you have the following information on hand when you go to complete your application:
- Home and/or mailing addresses for everyone applying for coverage.
- Social Security numbers or document numbers for legal immigrants.
- Employer and income information for every member of your household who needs coverage (from pay stubs or W-2 forms, for example).
- Your best estimate of what your household income will be in 2015.
- Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans.
- A completed “Employer Coverage Tool” document for every job-based plan you or someone in your household is eligible for. You need to fill out this form for coverage you’re eligible for even if you don’t enroll. The form is available on the HealthCare.gov website.
- Notices from your current plan that include plan ID, if you have or had health coverage in 2014.
Step 2: Compare plans.
Next, take a look at the plans that meet your needs and fall within your budget. Here are a few tips on what to look for across each plan:
- Consider all the costs associated with your plan. Beyond your premium and deductible, be sure to look at copayments and coinsurance.
- Check to see if your current doctors will be in your network. Going to doctors out of your network can be expensive depending on your plan.
- Consider the benefits beyond health coverage that may be associated with the different plans. The lowest cost plan may not always be the best option — it all depends on how you use your insurance.
Key terms to know when comparing plans:
- Premium: The amount that must be paid for your health insurance. You and/or your employer usually pay it monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
- Deductible: The sum of money you must pay up front for health care services before your policy’s coverage kicks in. This generally does not include preventive care, like annual checkups, immunizations, blood pressure screenings, etc.
- Copayment: A flat fee that you pay each time you access care (for example, you pay $20 when you visit the doctor). This amount can vary by the type of covered health care service.
- Coinsurance: Your share of the costs of a covered health care service, calculated as a percent of the allowed amount for the service.
Step 3: Enroll.
Once you’ve selected a plan that is right for you and your family, it’s time to enroll. Complete your enrollment by contacting your new insurance provider and sending in your first premium payment.
Not sure if you enrolled correctly? You can always log in to your account on HealthCare.gov and check out the My Coverage page or call your insurance company to find out.
If you’d like to speak to a UPMC Health Plan representative directly, call 1-877-563-0292 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Don’t forget: You need to sign up by Dec. 15, 2014 for coverage to start on Jan. 1, 2015. Start the process of signing up with UPMC Health Plan.