WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Health insurance marketplace open for enrollment

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Wilson medical center

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace began Nov. 1.

As you may recall, the Health Insurance Marketplace has been offering expanded access to low-cost health care coverage for people without health insurance or for those who are interested in exploring more cost-effective alternatives to their current coverage, since its inception in 2013. Last year alone, more than 12 million people obtained health coverage through the Marketplace.

One of the foundations of good health is preventive care, and that is a key benefit that health insurance coverage provides. Without health care coverage, people often only seek out medical care when there is an emergency or their condition becomes unmanageable on their own. The Health Insurance Marketplace has improved access to insurance plans that cover preventive care, which benefits individuals and our community by raising the overall level of health and quality of life in our area.

Getting Ready to Enroll

Open enrollment for 2018 coverage continues to Dec. 15. If you do not currently have health insurance or if you are currently insured through a Marketplace plan and wish to make changes in your coverage, you must do so during this time.

Here are a few steps to take to get ready for the enrollment period:

• Learn about different types of health insurance. A variety of plans will be available in the Marketplace.

• Make a list of questions before it’s time to choose your health plan, such as “Can I stay with my current doctor?” and “Can I use my local hospital?”

• Make sure you understand how insurance works, including deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, co-payments, etc.

• Start gathering basic information about your household income. You may qualify for a discount on the cost of your health insurance.

• Set your budget. Different health plans will be offered to meet a variety of budgets.

• Ask your employer if they plan to offer health insurance next year. Some employers, particularly small businesses, have chosen to discontinue offering health benefits and direct employees to the Marketplace.

• Explore current options. Visit www.HealthCare.gov for information about health insurance for young adults up to age 26, children in families with limited incomes (CHIP) and Medicare for people who are over age 65 or have disabilities.

As you compare plans, you should consider whether each plan includes any physicians and providers regularly seen by you and/or any family members who will be covered by the plan. These include primary care physicians, pediatricians, OB/GYNs, ENTs, dermatologists and other specialty care providers. If you need help identifying a plan to meet your health care needs, you can call 1-888-982-9144 or visit https://www.HealthCare.gov for more information, including a checklist of documents you will need for enrollment.

William “Bill” Caldwell is chief executive officer at Wilson Medical Center.

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