Category: Cost of Healthcare, Government Programs, Health Insurance

Talking Turkey … and Health Insurance

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. My large extended family will descend on my house outside of Baton Rouge to eat tons of food, watch football and talk. With every family gathering, there’s lots of conversations. My family members like to tell old stories as much as I do. We catch up with family we only see on major holidays to find out what they’ve been up to. There’s always one relative who brings up the thing WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT and gets everyone, well, animated.

We’ve all heard the rule that you should never discuss politics or religion among groups. But what you should be discussing with your family this holiday season is health insurance coverage. There’s about two-and-a-half weeks left in Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, which runs until Dec. 7. And Healthcare.gov, the federal marketplace where people who do not get insurance through a job and don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid can buy individual health plans, has its annual Open Enrollment Period through Jan. 15, 2023. But to get coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2023, you have to sign up by Dec. 15.

It’s really important to make sure your loved ones know the timeframe in which they must enroll for 2023 coverage. And, they shouldn’t just auto-renew their 2022 plan without doing a little homework to make sure it’s still the right plan for them. Are the network and drug formulary the same? Were any plan extras they enjoyed using to live healthy and keep more money in their pockets rolling over to 2023? Is there a better deal? It really pays to take a little time at the end of this year to look into all the new benefits to make sure you have the health insurance plan that’s the best fit for you in 2023.

“But Mike, if I bring health insurance up, my family is going to make me figure it out for them and then I’ll waste my whole holiday season looking stuff up and answering their questions.”

 Well, try being the resident health care economist in the family! But even if you aren’t,- you don’t have to find all the answers yourself – you can point them to agents who can help them and will not charge for their services.

The biggest tip I have for anyone exploring or enrolling in health plans is DON’T GO IT ALONE. You can work with an agent who is very familiar with Medicare or Healthcare.gov plans and can walk you through your choices. And, you’re not obligated to buy just because you work with an agent, so I’d strongly encourage families to take advantage of this opportunity.

The agents can help you do your research, compare your plan options and find the one that meets your needs. You don’t want to get to 2023 and realize the health care providers you want to see are not in your network or the prescriptions you take are not covered. Taking the time to shop around now can save you a lot of hassle and help you better understand what you can expect to pay for care. That’s especially important if you know you’ll have a big health need in the next year, like having a baby or needing surgery.

Get Help Picking a Plan

 For Medicare plans: Blue Cross Medicare experts are available by phone to answer questions and help beneficiaries find a plan that best meets their needs. It doesn’t cost anything to work with an agent, and there is no obligation to enroll. To learn more about Medicare and Blue Cross plan options, or to connect with an agent, visit bcbslaplan.com/medicare or call 1-800-568-1417 (TTY 711). Agents are available 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week, except holidays.

For Healthcare.gov plans: Need help reviewing your 2023 plan options? You can work with a licensed, experienced agent at no cost. Connect with one by visiting GetPlanOptions.com or calling 1-844-GET-BLUE (1-844-438-2583; TTY 711). Agents are available 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays until Jan. 15. They will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after (Nov. 24-25), Christmas (Dec. 25) and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1, 2023). There is no obligation to buy because you speak to an agent.

Short Videos and Other Resources

Our YouTube channel features short videos with tips for health plan enrollment, including a video with me explaining how recent federal changes will help more Louisiana families qualify for Healthcare.gov tax credits to pay for their 2023 health plans (2:30). This Straight Talk post can also help explain who might be newly eligible to shop on Healthcare.gov WITH subsidies.

Blue Cross’ Medicare Made Easy YouTube playlist features short videos from in-house experts, including a Medicare 101 video (5:20) that explains the different parts of Medicare and what to consider when picking a plan. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. And this page has a list of Straight Talk posts I’ve written about Medicare over the SEVEN YEARS I’ve helmed this blog.

Straight Talk is … picking your 2023 health plan is a big decision. Get help that is available for FREE with no obligation to buy.

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