“I Know because I Passed It:” 5 Ways to Get Your Most Affordable Healthcare During Open Enrollment

I partnered with UnitedHealthCare on a knowledge campaign to spread awareness about ObamaCare and the importance of getting you and your family insured. As a community that has been traditionally exploited or underserved by the health care system, I am super stoked to be part of a movement to raise awareness about what the Affordable Care Act is and isn’t. So, this week and next week, I’ll be sharing some information with you.

Love,

Kara

Did ya’ll see how  President Obama stood his ground during the State of the Union address?

“I know because I won BOTH of them.” Priceless.

I know when he got home, Michelle was like…

MichelleObama

While I love that our beloved President Obama will be remembered for how he handled his opponents, I don’t want us to forget that President Obama should also be respected because of what he has done for making healthcare affordable for more Americans.

I know because I passed it.

One of his legacy highlights will include the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2009—a watershed moment in this country, one of the few developed countries where millions have no or little access to quality and affordable healthcare.

If you didn’t know, in addition to being the beginning of tax season, January is close to the end of open enrollment season for finding and buying the best health plan for you and your family. Health plans are annual and there are only a few ways to switch, whether through the open enrollment window (November 15th, 2014-February 15th) or when major life events occurs, such as marriage, the birth of a baby, adoption, and divorce (Click here to get more information about open enrollment and to find out if you are eligible for tax credits or subsidies.)

If you are feeling overwhelmed about what health plan to choose or what first steps to take to ensure that you are buying the best plan for the health needs of you and your loved ones, don’t worry.

I got you.

Here are five guiding principles for you to follow to help you find health care coverage that is right for your wellness and wallet needs.

Do your research. How many times have you gone to several sites to comparison shop for something big that you wanted to buy whether it be a plane ticket, a freak ‘um dress, or a car? Plenty, right?

But how many times have you applied that same level of consumer savvy when shopping for health care?

If you are saying never, you are not alone. There are a lot of us Frugal Feminista, myself included, that have never really looked at health care as a big-ticket item to purchase. So, absolutely, no shade, just a communal wake-up call.

In order for you to buy the right health plan, you need to research, especially when it comes to having surgery. (In my next post, I will share with you what happened my wallet and my wellness when I had to have emergency surgery). Since surgery can be viewed as a major purchase (because it is), it is in the best interest of your health to know everything you can about the doctors, hospitals, and how much your health plan covers.

If you need a place to start your search, you can use tools like myHealthcare Cost Estimator to give you insight into your treatment options, estimated costs, and quality of care at the provider level.

Find out if your doctor in the plan’s network: A network is a group of doctors, hospitals and other providers that are covered by your policy. This is really important if you already have a good trusting relationship with your primary doctor.

Learn what’s covered: Review the benefit coverage documents to find out if the plan covers things such as physical therapy, mental health, or other special services that you might need. Ask about prescriptions, too.

Calculate the TOTAL cost of health coverage and know the lingo: Consider all your out-of -pocket costs not just the premium, which is the amount you pay every month for health insurance usually taken out of your paycheck.

You also have to think about the deductible or the amount you pay during the year for medical services before your insurance starts to pay. And then there’s the co-payment, which is the flat fee you pay out of pocket each time you visit a doctor. The co-pay for my primary care doctor is $35. Let’s also not forget co-insurance. That’s where you share a percentage of medical costs with your health insurer after your plan’s deductible has been reached. Some plans cover eighty percent and you pay the remaining twenty percent. You should also find out the maximum out-of-pocket limit, which is amount you have to pay out of pocket during any year of coverage.

When calculating, you should also see if the plan has any type of financial account available like a Flexible Saving Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) because they save you money on taxes.

Claim your money. If you haven’t checked to see if there is tax credits and subsidies waiting for you to claim for better and more affordable health care, then you are leaving money… your money on the table. Go to the United Health Care website here. Once there you can enter your zipcode, age, and income to find out what you’re entitled to.

It’s your right to be healthy and not go broke to do it.

You’re welcome, in advance. 🙂

Saving your money and budgeting correctly are two of the foundational tasks needed to take control of your finances.  If you need additional support, I invite you to check out my budgeting course and my savings course.

[info_box type=”alert_box”]Caring for yourself including takes care of your finances.  I encourage all ladies who are serious about self-care to go on The Happy Finances Challenge. In 42 days you can learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness. [/info_box]

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