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Get involved (and get covered!) on National Youth Enrollment Day

by Lauren Mandel

Did you know 1 out of every 5 young adults still doesn’t have health insurance? That statistic seems alarming, especially considering the help and tax credits currently available to most Americans.

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If you’re like us – and Get Covered America – and you want to see more young adults enrolled in health coverage, now is the time to take action. National Youth Enrollment Day is this Saturday, December 10, which means there’s no better time for millennials – and all Americans – to get enrolled in the right health plan.

Not sure which plan to choose? Not to worry: there’s personalized help available. Licensed agents can guide you through the enrollment process and help you find the right plan. Think health coverage is too expensive? The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than 2.5 million covered Americans are missing out on lower costs, and most individuals could find coverage for $75 a month or less once they take advantage of tax credits.

We understand the uncertainty surrounding the future of Obamacare. However, we’re here to remind you that major policy change takes time, meaning it’s still important to plan for your 2017 health coverage. If you don’t enroll in a plan by December 15,  you will not have active coverage once the New Year begins. And you most definitely do not want to miss the final Open Enrollment deadline on January 31, 2017; if you do, you may have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period starts to enroll in a health plan.

Looking for ways to get involved this Saturday? Click here for more information, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Individual Health Insurance | | Leave a comment

Your first health insurance deadline for 2017

by Brooke Jarchow

Open Enrollment, the period of time when Americans can get health insurance regardless of their health history, officially ends January 31, 2017. However, December 15, 2016 is the most important date to remember for securing coverage in 2017. If you enroll in a health plan on or before December 15, your coverage can start as early as January 1, 2017.

However, those who enroll any time after December 15 will not be covered immediately in the New Year. If you enroll or makes changes to your plan after December 15, your new plan may not take effect until as late as March 2017. You can shop for and compare plans and renew or change coverage for 2017 now.

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Just as important as securing coverage before December 15 is to make sure you pay your first premium. In order to activate coverage, you must pay your premium. In order to pay your premium, first confirm that your insurance application is complete. Once you have completed your application, you must pay your first month’s premium to your insurance provider. It is acceptable to pay your first month’s premium with a credit card, but you will also need to provide banking information for future premium payments.

If you fail to make your monthly premium payments, you could lose coverage for the rest of the year. Usually, there is a 90-day grace period for a missed premium payment depending on the plan. If you lose coverage because of a missed premium payment, it is important to remember that you will not qualify for the Special Enrollment Period.

The only other way to enroll or change your plan after the January 31 deadline is if you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period. The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is a time outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period where individuals who have experienced certain life events can sign up for health insurance. Qualifying Life Events include losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. Typically, an individual has 60 days following the Qualifying Life Event to enroll in an a plan.

In short, to ensure you and your family are covered immediately, enroll and pay your first month’s premium before December 15, 2016.

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6 Tweets that illustrate potential risks of repealing Obamacare

by Lauren Mandel

While much about the future of Obamacare is still unknown, President-elect Donald Trump and the Republicans have continued to make one thing clear: the health law will be repealed or drastically changed.

But after the election and Trump’s announcements about Obamacare, some Americans have come out in support of the health law and how it has helped them. We took to Twitter to find a few of those people, understand their reasons for valuing the health law, and outline how their lives could potentially change if the law is eventually repealed.

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Laura (above) and her husband are just two of millions – about 22 million, to be exact – who could lose their health coverage if Obamacare is repealed. The main reason? Tax credits, or the government subsidies that help millions of Americans afford their monthly premium payments. Even if Trump does not repeal the entire health law, he may choose to defund certain provisions, including the government-funded tax credits. Without them, millions will be unable to afford health insurance.

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Currently under the Affordable Care Act, prescription drugs are covered as one of the 10 Essential Health Benefits. Tara (above) is concerned that if the health law is repealed under a Trump presidency, she will no longer be able to afford her asthma medication. This is a real concern for the 60 percent of American adults who take prescription drugs every day.
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Similar to prescription drug coverage, mental health coverage is an Essential Health Benefit. This means that all health plans must cover this type of mental health care – including addiction treatment – under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 1 in 20 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, so Joey (above) and his wife are hardly alone in their worries. If Obamacare is repealed, mental health care may become more difficult to access.

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Trump has expressed interest in repealing much about Obamacare, but there are two details about the law he’s said he’d like to keep. The first is that no one with a pre-existing condition can be charged more or denied coverage, and the second is that kids can stay on their parent’s health plan until age 26. So if Trump doesn’t repeal the entire health law, Cherie (above) should still be able to keep her coverage.

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Another Essential Health Benefit under the Affordable Care Act: hospitalization. Pyro (above) says that she would not have been able to afford a week-long stay in the Intensive Care Unit without her Obamacare coverage. In 2010, the average length of a hospital stay was about 5 days and cost more than $4,000. If Obamacare is repealed, many Americans who can no longer afford their health coverage would be forced to pay for this type of cost out of pocket.

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The above Tweet from Claire summarizes much of what could be lost if Obamacare was repealed. Preventive care, such as cancer screenings and immunizations, could no longer be free. Contraception would no longer be free, as we discussed in another recent blog post. And the list goes on. While still nothing is certain, it’s important to be aware of how the health law – and your health care future – could change.

Image credits: Twitter

Politics and Legislation | | Leave a comment

How Trump could affect Obamacare’s birth control provision

by Brooke Jarchow

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The health law, along with government regulations, requires insurers to cover birth control at no additional costs to insured women. In 2012, 15 percent of American women were getting free contraception; in 2015, it was 67 percent. Although Trump appears to be compromising on some aspects of the law, the future of accessible and affordable contraceptives remains uncertain. Below, we share what we know so far and what women should know following the election.

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Should Trump repeal the provision of the law that requires insurers to provide free access to contraceptives, women could be forced to pay out of pocket for birth control at significantly higher costs. For example, an IUD, currently covered under the law on the list of readily available contraceptives, can cost up to $1,000 out of pocket.

 

If Trump were to cut off the federal funding of Planned Parenthood as he promised during his campaign, millions of uninsured and low-income families that rely on Planned Parenthood for free and low cost health services may be unable to access contraceptives. Since the election, Planned Parenthood has received thousands of donations, but its future is still uncertain.

 

Women are now voicing their concerns across social media and to their health care providers. Across social media, women are urging each other to purchase mass amounts of birth control now, or to seek alternative long-term forms of birth control, like an IUD, that could outlast Trump’s presidency. Like other health care providers, Lisa Masterson, MD said she has received an influx of calls regarding the IUD after the election. The IUD can last three to 10 years depending on the type of IUD (there are three). The trending idea is that if a woman gets the IUD now, she could potentially avoid paying high costs for necessary birth control in the future during a Trump presidency.

 

However, it is important to remember that these changes to women’s rights would not happen overnight and may not even be implemented in 2017. This fortunately gives women time to look into their options, talk with their doctor, and choose a birth control and health plan that aligns with their personal circumstances. This is another important reason why women should secure health coverage now and stay educated on the decisions made by their government.

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5 ways you could be causing diabetes without knowing it

by Sam Kraft

November is National Diabetes Month, and a global spotlight is shining on a deadly disease that affects more than 29 million people in the United States.

Which makes today an opportune time to ask yourself: Could you be causing (or living with) type 2 diabetes…and not even know it?

Before you dismiss that notion, look at the facts:

  • 1 out of 4 people don’t know they have diabetes
  • At least 1 out of 3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime
  • Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthier lifestyle

The goal of National Diabetes Month is to help promote the importance of type 2 diabetes screenings, which help ensure early diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications.

To help you decide whether you should book a screening, we’ve outlined five ways you could be putting yourself at greater risk.

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You have a major sweet tooth.

As a response to the low-fat “revolution” launched in the 1970s, sugar – particularly added sugar – became a staple of America’s food industry. The result? Millions of Americans have been unknowingly eating and drinking massive amounts of sugar for decades.

Those extra servings of sugar have taken their toll. In this case specifically, research shows that regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Worried your sugar intake may be too high? For starters, start avoiding products with added sugar near the top of the ingredient list, such as fruit juices, soda, sweetened yogurt, baked goods, processed foods, and anything including the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup.

You’re stressed out.

Look, we’re all stressed. Jobs, families, money problems – no one’s immune. A little stress is normal, but research indicates that chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol, all of which are linked to type 2 diabetes.

On the same note, a Dutch study concluded that depression increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 37 percent.

Stress can certainly seem overwhelming, but there are proven methods to build up control. Check out this post from Diabetes Self-Management for some helpful tips on stress relief.

You’re unknowingly triggering inflammation.

Though it may not be a direct cause, we can say for certain that internal inflammation plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or been bitten by a mosquito, you know how inflammation works. However, you may not be aware that certain behaviors can cause inflammation within your body, which sometimes lead to insulin resistance.

As people with type 2 diabetes already have issues producing enough insulin and using it properly, inflammation can create a vicious cycle inside your body if you’re at risk for the disease.

The best ways to fight off inflammation? Get regular exercise, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, and practice good oral hygiene.

You’re on the couch too much.

Obesity is widely recognized as a primary risk factor for diabetes, as are the primary contributors to obesity like poor diet and lack of exercise.

But this may surprise you: a University of Missouri study concluded that people who lead sedentary lifestyles are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, regardless of diet or weight.

My advice is simple: get off your couch, ditch your office chair, and move around. Not only does physical activity help with weight control, but it also uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.

You’re not getting your full 8 hours.

According to NIDDK, you’re at greater risk for type 2 diabetes if you’re living with untreated sleep problems, especially sleep apnea.

Like diabetes, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, which is why you may not even know you’re at risk. So if you’re frequently feeling bleary-eyed, read up on common sleep disorders and what you can do to prevent them.

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What we know so far about Trump, Republicans, and the future of Obamacare

by Lauren Mandel

Over the past year – and now, over the past few days – President-elect Donald Trump has made his intentions concerning Obamacare relatively clear. However, the Republicans do not hold the necessary 60 seats in the Senate for a full repeal of the health law, so while that is unlikely, changes are sure to come.

Below, we’re sharing what we know so far, and most importantly, what you can do now to make sure you’re as protected as possible for the future.

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No matter what the changes may be, they won’t happen immediately.

Last year, the Senate passed a reconciliation bill that was also passed in the House and then eventually vetoed by President Obama. But with Trump now set to take office in January, that bill could come back into play. The bill may be a good indication of which Obamacare provisions could eventually be eliminated, but these things take time. Even if this is the path the new administration chooses to take, it will take months for anything to be finalized.

Certain provisions of the health law will very likely remain in tact.

Even if Trump does revive this bill, certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act cannot be repealed with reconciliation. For example, those with pre-existing conditions (like cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses) should know that health insurers will likely still be required to cover you, regardless of your health history. The same goes for young adults still on their parent’s health plan; you will most likely still be able to keep this coverage until age 26.

Even still, it wouldn’t hurt for women to look into birth control options.

Under the Affordable Care Act (and according to regulations more recently issued by the government), insurers are required to cover birth control at no additional cost to the individual. However, Trump could end up repealing this part of the health law, ending access to free contraceptives. So what are your options right now? Many women will choose to start paying for their birth control out-of-pocket, while others are seeking out alternatives that could outlast a Trump presidency. No matter your decision, we encourage you to consult with your doctor to find an option that makes sense for your health.

No matter what, get a health plan now to ensure you’re covered for the immediate future.

It’s clear changes are coming, but for now, it’s still important to get health insurance for 2017. As we said above, there’s no telling when exactly these changes to Obamacare might happen. And even with these changes, you could still have the option to hold on to your current coverage, so it’s arguably more important than ever to secure health coverage now.

Health Care Reform, Politics and Legislation | | Leave a comment

Review Obamacare metal levels to understand your plan costs

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

Now that Open Enrollment is in full swing, you may have started browsing for health plans. Have you noticed metals – like Silver and Bronze – next to the plan options? There’s an important reason for this.

While these metal levels have little to do with the quality of care, they do indicate how you and your health plan provider will share in the plan’s costs. For example, while a Bronze plan may have the lowest premium available, you may face high costs when you go to access health care. A Gold plan may have higher monthly premiums, but the cost of care will be more affordable.

It’s important that you consider all of your options when choosing a plan. To better understand metal levels and their associated costs, we’ve created the following infographic.

For more information or to speak with a licensed sales agent about your coverage, please call 888-322-7557 now.

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How to save more money and get better Obamacare benefits

by Lauren Mandel

Open Enrollment for individual health insurance officially begins today, and while you may think you’re set with your current health plan, we’re here to tell you why it’s important to actively return to shop this year.

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We’re now in the fourth year of Open Enrollment, and like any other new law or policy implementation, a lot has been learned over the past four years. Changes have been made with other changes on the way. But one of the most important things for consumers to know throughout this change is that you still have options. And if you keep your current plan without returning to shop, you could be missing out on better and more affordable benefits.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released information that shows 2.5 million Americans who currently have individual coverage could be missing out on lower costs. Do you know if you’re eligible for tax credits, which can help lower the cost of your health coverage? Even if you already take advantage of tax credits, bigger savings could be available to you this year. The only way you’ll know if you’re eligible for new or bigger tax credits is to check back in with our licensed agents during Open Enrollment.

You may have read about Obamacare rate increases, and although rates have increased in some parts of the country, millions of Americans can still access affordable coverage. Analysis from HHS also showed that even with a massive 25 percent rate increase, almost 75 percent of Americans would still be able to purchase coverage for $75 a month or less thanks to tax credits.

And what about plan selection and availability? Are you certain you want to keep your same plan from last year? Throughout the year, health care needs of individuals often shift or change. Perhaps you needed specific prescription medications last year that you no longer need for this year. Maybe your current health plan covers you and your children, but moving forward, you only need coverage for yourself. No matter your situation, it’s always important to shop around in order to find the right coverage for your health care needs.

And for those of you who think you don’t need health insurance at all, think again. In the past, we’ve written about the high costs associated with going without health insurance. A health plan might seem expensive to some people, but it can be even more expensive to go without one. If you end up at the emergency room or need last-minute surgery, you’ll also end up with costly medical bills that could have been lessened with the help of health insurance.

Ready to get started? We’re ready to help. Call 888-322-7557 to speak with one of our licensed agents now.

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Obamacare sticker shock may not be what it seems thanks to tax credits

by Lauren Mandel

Recently released Obamacare rates are yet another example of why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

On the surface, Obamacare rates for 2017 seem to have skyrocketed compared to past years of Open Enrollment. However, the rates alone don’t tell the full story. A piece published by NPR outlines that while yes, rates are increasing in many states, tax credits (the government subsidies that lower costs for most Americans) are also increasing. So while premium estimates might seem high, they’ll likely be lowered significantly once tax credits are applied.

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The government confidently states that more than 70 percent of people buying Obamacare plans can actually pay less than $75 per month for their coverage, assuming they take advantage of tax credits. Like we’ve mentioned before, 2.5 million Americans are actually missing out on tax credits to help lower their monthly costs. If you think you might be eligible, it’s important to investigate before enrolling in a 2017 plan.

Similar to sentiments we’ve expressed in the past, the government agrees that shopping around could also help save consumers money. More than 75 percent of shoppers could save just by switching to the lowest-cost plan within their level of coverage. This further proves the importance of exploring all plan options for 2017, rather than sticking with your current coverage. If you don’t come back to shop, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars.

The bottom line: Don’t let recent news stories scare you away from finding an Obamacare plan. You still have choices, and those choices might even involve lower costs. Last year, 85 percent of enrollees qualified for lower costs, and that number has the potential to be even higher.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible for tax credits, call 888-322-7557 to speak with one of our licensed agents who can help you find out.

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5 easy ways to find the right Obamacare plan

by Lauren Mandel

On November 1, the fourth year of Obamacare Open Enrollment officially begins. Many of you may already have an Obamacare plan from last year, while others have never had to shop for individual coverage. No matter your situation, the most important thing is that you find a health plan and stay covered.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a list of tips to reference while you shop? Lucky for you, we’ve created that list. Below you’ll find 5 helpful tips to consider while shopping for your Obamacare plan starting on November 1.

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Come back to comparison shop, even if you think you’ll stick with the same plan.

Don’t assume your current plan is the best one available to you for 2017. There have been some changes since last year’s Open Enrollment Period, which means there may have been changes to your current plan. The only way to make sure you don’t miss out on lower costs, better benefits, and new plan options is to check in to see what’s changed since you last enrolled.

Update your personal information to make sure you don’t overpay.

Did you know that last year, 85 percent of Americans received tax credits to lower the cost of their coverage? Unfortunately, only about half of all Americans know that this financial assistance exists. And new information released by the Department of Health and Human Services reveals 2.5 million covered Americans could be missing out on tax credits altogether.

Why would you pay more than you have to? While it might seem unnecessary, updating your personal information each year ensures you get the financial assistance you deserve.

If you’re eligible for tax credits for 2017 coverage, your plan could cost less than $75 per month. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible for a tax credit, GoHealth can help you find out.

Keep a list of your preferred doctors and necessary prescriptions. 

You may find a health plan that seems perfect for your budget, but it may not cover your favorite doctor who you see regularly. Different health plans also cover different prescription medications. So, while all health plans must cover the same essential health benefits, the details of each plan can vary. Make sure you’re referencing a list of your preferred doctors and necessary prescriptions while shopping for health coverage this year.

Consider all of your options before making your final decision. 

While Open Enrollment begins on November 1, you actually have until December 15 to get coverage that starts on January 1, 2017. This means you have time to browse plan options, get expert advice from one of our licensed agents, and take your time before enrolling in your plan of choice. Purchasing health insurance is a big decision, and you should consider all of your options carefully.

It’s also important to remember that there are additional options to help you complete your coverage. GoHealth Access is a health care tool that can help you better use your coverage and save you even more money on things like prescriptions, dental work, and more.

When in doubt, take advantage of the help that’s available to you.

Finding the right health insurance plan can be confusing, even for someone who’s done it before. But what sets GoHealth apart from other enrollment options is our expert licensed agents. These professionals are standing by to help you find the right plan. They can estimate your tax credit, make plan recommendations based on your health care needs and budget, and get you enrolled quickly and easily.

Health Care Reform | | Leave a comment