by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service
Massachusetts continues to have the lowest uninsured rate in the country, at just under 2.5%, but folks still looking for a health plan – or who want to change their policy – can do so starting November 1st. That’s when open enrollment through the Affordable Care Act begins.
One important change this year is that Congress expanded the subsidies for health insurance premiums, so people who purchase plans through the federal exchange will pay no more than 8.5% of their household income through 2025.
Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, said it is important to set aside time to compare all the plans available as well as understand your own family’s needs.
“Just because you had a certain coverage last year, you might not want to have that coverage roll over,” Randall said. “You want to make sure that you’re looking into what your options for 2023 look like.”
Randall said more insurers are expanding their mental health coverage and offering more virtual care options, which gained in popularity during the pandemic. She said it’s also important to consider the value of having an integrated plan that covers specialty care, such as hearing, dental or vision.
She added UnitedHealthcare has posted online videos to help people navigate the exchange as well as the sometimes confusing insurance terminology.
More insurance companies are also expanding their wellness incentives. They may offer discounted rates for people who exercise, don’t smoke and work to lower their blood pressure. Randall said your goal should be to find a plan that helps you navigate the health care system.
“So, you’re looking for also a health plan that’s going to have good advocacy,” she said. “Whether it’s a digital interaction or you’re calling your health plan to interact, they’re helping you maximize your benefits and services in getting you to the care that you need at the right time.”
Open enrollment is the only time during the year, outside a special enrollment window, that people can sign up for a plan or change their current health coverage. Open enrollment runs Nov. 1 through Jan. 15.