The season of gift giving and celebration is upon us, and one more event should now be on everyone’s calendar: enrolling in health care.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to avoid scams and issues when enrolling in health care for 2015:
• Beware of websites imitating the official Washington state health plan website ( www.wahealthplanfinder.org). Imitator sites cannot provide tax benefits, qualify you for lower cost insurance, and may even fraudulently sell you a health savings plan as insurance or take your money for no insurance at all. When searching online, many imitators come up, making it confusing. To make sure you are not on an imitator’s website, start at www.healthcare.gov, and then select your state to be directed to the legitimate website.
• When you enroll by the Tuesday deadline at www.wahealthplanfinder.org, your coverage will start on Jan 1. The annual open enrollment period for medical insurance coverage ends on Feb. 15, 2015. For those working with an insurance broker or directly with a provider, ask about their deadlines.
• Research the insurance plan’s network of doctors and health providers before you sign up. For those switching plans, this can be especially important. Consider asking your doctor’s office directly about the plans they accept for 2015.
• Consider shopping around for your 2015 plan, reading all details of plan coverage to understand all of the costs before purchasing. Costs can include premiums, co-pays, deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, prescriptions and cost sharing, all impacting your bottom line. If you have ongoing health needs or anticipate a health need, consider a lower deductible plan versus a lower premium plan.
Those who fall within certain income levels for their household size may qualify for lower premiums, also called premium tax credits, lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, or low-cost health care through Washington’s Apple Health Program ( www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/). To see if you may qualify for lower monthly premiums, check out the chart at http://1.usa.gov/1FDuOZh. If you qualify, Silver health plans purchased through the exchange are the only ones that may provide lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
You can get free help understanding your health care enrollment options from a local broker or trained navigator. Visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org and click the “Find a Broker” or “Find a Navigator” link.
To check out an insurance plan, medical office or health-related business, you can read the BBB Business Reviews at www.bbb.org or call (509) 455-4200.
Erin Dodge, BBB editor
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