For many of us, OPEN ENROLLMENT is a necessary chore, but we should look at it as an OPPORTUNITY!  Open Enrollment 2021 is a chance to take a fresh look at the decisions we made last year and make informed decisions that can save money and provide even better health care!

We can decide on who we should include in our plans and how we can get the most out of our health insurance dollar.

In this article, we discuss:

  • Open enrollment 2021 as an opportunity
  • How to make the most of your health insurance plan
  • Who you can include as a dependent

Understand that these decisions are a matter of personal judgment. The rules that govern each health plan are hundreds of pages long. We have written this article to help you consider the broader issues.  For more detailed information that precisely addresses your own needs, we recommend that you talk with a qualified insurance agent for independent and unbiased advice.

Check out this Blog: MAKING SENSE: Finding the best deals on health insurance

The most important thing is to find the right health insurance for you and your family.

Open enrollment 2021 it’s an opportunity!

The easiest thing to do is just to let your existing plan roll-over.   But, in doing so, you could be missing an opportunity. So much has changed in the last 12 months that insurers are changing their plans and, sometimes, improving them and removing policies from the health insurance marketplace. (AKA health insurance exchanges). 

Your circumstances may have changed; your employment (or that of your spouse/partner), the number of people in your household, or perhaps the number of visits to the Doctor’s office was less than you anticipated.  Has your need for medications changed? Are the prescription drugs of your choice on your insurer’s formulary (approved list)? It’s a great idea to review this year’s affordable health insurance options.

Most importantly, do you or any of your dependents have plans for an elective treatment?  All these possibilities could influence your choice of plan.   Make the most of this opportunity to find a new healthcare plan.

How to make the most of your health insurance?

As with most types of insurance, Auto insurance, for example, we are all tempted by ‘the lowest health insurance rates.’ Usually, this refers to the monthly premium.  The monthly premium is what it costs to join. The real cost is the amount you pay out of your pocket for the services you need during the year.  Generally, if you spend a little more for your premium, you will pay A LOT LESS for your care, treatment, and medications [See the article: Understand the Health Insurance’ Metal’ Tiers]. 

Look at your medical expenses for last year, estimate your needs for next year and discuss them with a qualified health insurance agent.  They will guide you through the options to find the plans that are affordable and offer the ‘best value.’ 

Who can I include as dependents on my insurance plan?

When you purchase a health insurance plan, you can extend the coverage to your dependents.  We will look at the definition of ‘dependent’ later, but first, let’s consider the benefits of including them in your plan.

Why should I include dependents on my health insurance?

First, you must provide health insurance for anyone whom you claim as a tax dependent.  You and your spouse can file your taxes jointly or separately, but you can only claim once for each dependent, and the same rules apply to health insurance.  The most common circumstance is insurance coverage for children (including adopted and fostered children) up to the age of 26.

If they (the qualified children) have sisters, brothers, half-sisters, half-brothers, or children of their own, you can include them in your plan.

Note: Each child doesn’t need to reside with you at the time of enrollment, but must live with you for at least six months during the plan period.

You also can consider elderly relatives up to age 65. At sixty-five, they become eligible for Medicare.

Second, there are twin financial advantages.

  1. It is legal to organize your financial affairs to take full advantage of tax exemptions, many of which are related to the number of dependents for whom you intend to claim
  2. As a general rule, the more people on a single policy, the lower the monthly cost (the premium) per insured individual. More significantly, the ‘out-of-pocket’ maximum is spread among a larger group and will typically be lower than the individual maximums.  If either you or your dependents need prolonged medical care or the extended use of prescription drugs, you could save thousands of dollars.

As we said right at the beginning, there are numerous opportunities for improving your coverage and reducing your healthcare costs, but it can be tricky.  To take full advantage of all the benefits and options, talk to a qualified health insurance advisor.

Open enrollment is almost here (November 1st).  Take the time to explore.  Most insurers anticipate an increase in premium costs.  Now more than ever, it is crucial to search for ‘best value.’ Make the most of your insurance $.