Open enrollment has begun at healthcare.gov.
It’s possible this year’s enrollment could be more important than ever.
Here are the five things you should know as you choose a plan.
1. Don’t delay
According to Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered, the most important thing is to take action before the window closes on Dec. 15.
“The website has had enrollment issues in the past," Peck said. "So the sooner you enroll, the better.”
2. It might be cheaper than you think
One of the most common reasons for avoiding coverage is cost. However, it might be cheaper than you think.
“We’re seeing another year where prices are relatively stable," Peck said. "Three out of four people who have coverage in Texas pay a monthly premium of $20 or less.”
In fact, Peck said, 4.7 million Americans are eligible for $0 monthly premiums.
3. Compare plans
Just remember, low monthly costs typically mean high deductibles. That means an emergency health crisis is going to cost you a lot, but this might be a good option if you were considering skipping coverage altogether.
A low deductible will cost more per month, but this is usually a better option if you anticipate a hospital stay this year.
4. Free help is available
One of the easiest ways to navigate the plans is to go to localhelp.healthcare.gov. There, you can enter your ZIP code and find nearby people to assist you at no cost.
Celina Guajardo, of Legacy Community Health, is a certified application counselor and helps people determine their eligibility.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs or are expecting a lower income, they may be eligible for a small premium as well,” Guajardo said.
There are scams out there that that prey on people looking for healthcare, so it’s important to make sure you’re calling the right phone number 1-800-318-2596 and only using healthcare.gov when signing up for government health insurance. Any other website might not be legitimate.
5. Consider this during the COVID-19 pandemic
You may want to review your telehealth options. Some plans may be more accommodating with virtual doctor visits.
Also, check which plans offer coronavirus treatments that sound best for you.