Tips to choosing the right health plan
Unless you’re Bobbi Brown, getting the perfect eyebrows takes a little practice (OK, a lot!). But when it comes to browsing health plans, there’s a lot more at stake than a great selfie: not having the right insurance coverage can cost you big when you need health care or have a major emergency.
So with open enrollment just around the corner, now’s a great time to brush up on the basics. Pencil in a few notes about what to look for when you shop for plans through Maryland Health Connection:
1) Have the right tools on hand.
When you go to MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download our mobile app, you can click “Get Started” to get an estimate of 2018 plans and prices even before open enrollment. It’s important to put in the correct information so you get a more accurate estimate of what plans and financial help you may qualify for.
First, make sure you understand who to include in your application. Your household generally is you and anyone you include on your tax return, even if not everyone is applying for coverage. For example, don’t include your roommate. Second, review what income to include to see if you qualify for savings.
2) Remember that just like your left and right brow, no two plans are exactly the same.
When you’re shopping for health coverage, plans can be different in a few ways:
Metal level: There are several categories of insurance plans, or “metal levels,” called Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, as well as Catastrophic plans. Plans in these categories differ based on how you and the plan share the costs of your care. Generally, the lower your monthly premium, the higher your out-of-pocket costs when you need medical services. Our chart here helps show the differences.
Network type: Plan types include HMO, PPO, POS, EPO, IDS, and HSA-eligible. Some plans allow you to see almost any doctor or use any healthcare facility; others limit your choices to a network of doctors and facilities, or require you to pay more if you use providers outside the network. We have more details here.
3. Don't make your brows(e) “thin.” Our plans cover all the essentials, so you can compare benefits in-depth.
Health plans through Maryland Health Connection (except Catastrophic plans) cover these core benefits, and some plans offer additional benefits:
- Doctor visits
- Emergency care
- Maternity and newborn care
- Pediatric care, including dental and vision benefits
- Prescription drugs
- Laboratory tests
- Mental health care
- Substance abuse treatment
Plus, your health insurance company can’t discriminate against you or charge you more because of a pre-existing condition like cancer, diabetes or pregnancy.
Plans also cover preventive care for free, so many checkups and screenings (even birth control) are covered at no extra cost, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.
When you apply through us, you can review the details of what your plan covers and what you and your plan will pay for covered services.
4) The shape of your finances should get better too: 9 out of 10 people who enroll qualify for lower costs (really!).
Did you know that more than 90 percent of people who signed up through Maryland Health Connection qualified for lower costs on their health insurance? You may qualify for a tax credit that lowers your monthly bill, or you may even be eligible for free coverage through Medicaid.
When you apply for a plan through MarylandHealthConnection.gov, you can see what savings you’ll receive and what premium to expect.
5) Don’t be afraid to call in an expert.
You wouldn’t try threading at home, right? Make an appointment when you can’t do the job yourself — in this case, we have consumer assistance organizations with trained navigators, as well as authorized insurance brokers throughout Maryland who provide free help. Search here for an expert near you!
They’ll help you understand available plans and complete your application so you get the right coverage and financial help. Plus, they’re a great resource for after you enroll, like if you need to tell us about any changes in your life or income.
About Maryland Health Connection
Maryland Health Connection is Maryland’s official health insurance marketplace for individuals and families to compare plans and enroll in health and dental coverage. It’s the only place to get financial help with health insurance. See if you qualify for financial help like tax credits or Medicaid/MCHP to make health insurance more affordable.