Thousands of Tennesseeans will be shopping for new health insurance plans for next year when open enrollment begins November 1. The experts say it’s important to be aware of exactly what you’re getting.
Over 600,000 Tennesseans don’t have health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, said people shopping for coverage need to do some research to choose the most suitable plan for them.
She added that some plans are more affordable now that Congress has extended the subsidies that help many people pay for coverage.
“For lower-income folks, you can get a plan that provides really solid coverage, and you can get it for free or very low cost,” said Johnson. “The most important thing to look for when choosing a plan is to make sure your doctors are in the plan – and then, make sure that your medicines are covered.”
The Inflation Reduction Act included a provision to extend the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies through 2025, so the subsidy rules that are in effect this year will continue for 2023.
To find out if you’re eligible, visit ‘Healthcare.gov‘ online. Enter your ZIP Code and the system will prompt you to enter income information, which determines how much your premium subsidy would be.
Johnson explained that the amount of savings is tied to your income, based on the Federal Poverty Level.
“If you’re 400% of poverty or below, which is really upper-middle class in Tennessee, you will benefit from some subsidies,” said Johnson. “The 200% in poverty and below, really generous subsidies. Folks below 200% of poverty can get plans for a really cheap amount per month.”
The system then shows you the insurance plans available within your geographic area.
Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, noted that there are some options that people may not think about – such as how a plan would handle a significant health event, like a pregnancy or chronic health condition.
She added that since the pandemic, more people also have recognized the benefits of getting care online.
“Plans that include virtual care services,” said Randall, “for both medical conditions as well as behavioral health conditions, have become very popular. We’ve seen the utilization of those increase. You’re also looking for a plan that has not only virtual health options, but a connection to in-person care as well.”
Randall said adding dental, vision or hearing coverage is another consideration, as well as double-checking whether the plan covers the prescriptions you need. In short, she recommended that people do their homework, as enrollment dates are fast approaching.