Open Enrollment - Page 15 - Enrollment from page 4

Open Enrollment
- Page 15
Enrollment from page 4
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization disseminating news on national health care issues, 55 percent of all workers were covered by their employer’s health care plan in 2017. If your spouse is also employed and has available coverage for you, too, review those plans and premiums as well. Employers are not mandated to cover spouses for health insurance. You are not required to take your employer’s health insurance. It may be better for you to each take your respective employer-offered insurance, because individual needs vary, says Barnickel. “Read the brochures from the insurance carriers. Print or download the benefits sheets and have them as a reference throughout your search,” she says.

If the company plan is not right for you, the independent market is at your fingertips. Simply go online and Google “health care insurance in Maryland” and myriad sources will appear. “You can shop the plans online yourself or you can contact an insurance broker who does the shopping for you, including the Maryland Health Connection,” Barnickel says. A broker can also help you take advantage of all of the credits afforded by your premium, she explains. “If you’re not using all the benefits, you’re leaving money on the table. For example, you can get a $150 credit for doing four simple things through the CareFirst Blue Rewards Program.”

The Maryland Health Connection has an extensive website that is easy to navigate and well written. It’s chock-full of information about current legislation and facts about carriers, requirements and support. It is the only place you can get financial help with your insurance and talk with Maryland Health Connection navigators. In addition, check your eligibility for Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid is the health insurance for low-income persons, and it covers one in five Americans. It is a federal-state partnership, so each state is a little different. Medicaid recipients also qualify for private insurance coverage.

Bottom line is: Don’t fear the open enrollment period. Stangle says, “It’s only a 12-month commitment. You can make changes during the next open enrollment period, so you don’t have to try to predict your health care needs for the rest of your life.” Come out from under your cover sooner rather than later, though. Barnickel advises, “Don’t wait until the end of the enrollment period. Systems get overloaded and people get stressed. Schedule an appointment with a broker before Nov. 1 so you’re ready when the enrollment period opens.” •