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Choose telemedicine for your family’s health care needs

by Lauren Mandel

Moms and dads: Do you have a son or daughter who routinely uses your sleeve as a tissue? What about a child (probably soon-to-be multiple children) with the chicken pox? Does it seem like your little ones are home sick more than they’re in school?Facebook august - baby

It’s inevitable that with blustery winds and freezing temperatures, winter also brings cold, flu, and everything else season. It’s hard to predict exactly what your children are going to come down with and when, but what you can do is prepare with a plan to tackle sickness head-on.

In the United States, the average wait time to see a doctor is more than two weeks. And while some still value human interaction when it comes to doctor-patient relationships, most – 76 percent – would rather have easy access to health care, according to an American Hospital Association study.

This is where telemedicine comes in: When your child is running a temperature of 102 degrees, wouldn’t it be great to have immediate access to a board-certified doctor? Well, now you can.

There are different tools and apps now available that give you 24/7 access to doctors, who can diagnose conditions and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Some of these tools can also save you money on other health care needs, like prescription drugs, vision care, dental procedures, and more. And if you’re interested in completing your current health insurance coverage, you can get up to $10,000 in additional insurance benefits.

So the next time you’re thinking of packing sick kids into a card to make the long commute to the doctor, download an app, like GoHealth Access, instead.

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GoHealth answers your top 13 Obamacare questions

by Lauren Mandel

Now that Open Enrollment is over, you’d think the confusion surrounding Obamacare would dissipate, right? Not quite.Facebook Oct - mental

You guys still have questions. A lot of them. And if one person has a question about their health plan activation or how to use their coverage, we bet a few more of you also need the answer to that exact same question.

As your go-to health insurance resource, we’ve provided answers to 13 of your top Obamacare questions.

  1. What is Obamacare?

It’s important to first understand the context in which you’re talking about the term “Obamacare.” You may also hear the terms “Affordable Care Act” or “health reform” when talking about Obamacare, which means the United States law that gives more people better access to the health care they need. This law also mandates that all Americans get health insurance or face a fine. Alternatively, if you’re talking about Obamacare as a type of health insurance, this means private health insurance that you can buy through the government or a private exchange, like GoHealth.

  1. How much is the tax penalty for going uninsured?

The tax penalty – sometimes referred to as the “Obamacare fine” – usually varies from year to year. For 2016, the tax penalty will be 2.5 percent of your income or $695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child in your household, whichever is greater. In many cases, paying the tax penalty and facing your own medical bills is much more expensive than getting health insurance.

  1. How can I avoid the tax penalty now that Open Enrollment is over?

In order to avoid the tax penalty, you must have an ACA-compliant health insurance plan with minimum essential coverage, also known as a major medical health insurance plan or Obamacare plan. If you did not enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment, you may still be able to get major medical insurance if you experience a Qualifying Life Event, such as having a baby or moving.

  1. How can I get an exemption from the tax penalty?

Depending on various details, you may qualify from an exemption under the Affordable Care Act, meaning you won’t have to get health insurance and you won’t have to pay the tax penalty. Those who may qualify for an exemption include members of a recognized Native American tribe and individuals who are currently incarcerated. For the full list and more information, take a look at our recent blog post.

  1. Can I enroll in Obamacare whenever I want?

Most Americans must get health insurance during the annual Open Enrollment Period, which most recently ran from November 15, 2015 through January 31, 2016. An exception to this rule is anyone who experiences a Qualifying Life Event, including moving, having a baby, or adopting, which means those people have 60 days from the time of the event to find new coverage.

  1. Do I need to purchase dental and vision plans?

While dental and vision insurance aren’t required by law, they are encouraged. The same way major medical insurance can help you afford your medical bills, dental and vision insurance can help you afford those corresponding bills, as well. To save even more money on dental and vision services, check out GoHealth Access.

  1. Can I keep my doctor with the Obamacare plan I chose?

Maybe. Some health insurance plans require patients to visit only in-network doctors, meaning doctors who are pre-approved. Other plans give patients flexibility, which means you may be able to go out-of-network and see any doctor you choose. It’s important to note that going out-of-network is much more expensive than staying in-network. If your current doctor does not take the plan you chose, you may want to consider finding a new in-network doctor.

  1. Why don’t I qualify for an Obamacare tax credit?

While most people (last year, 85%) qualify for financial assistance, it is true that not everyone will qualify for a tax credit. Tax credit eligibility is based on a few factors, including the number of people in your household and your household income, so it’s important to regularly update your personal information.

  1. How and when do I make my first premium payment?

Once you have a health plan, you should make your first payment as soon as possible directly to your health insurance provider. Even if you bought your plan through a private exchange like GoHealth, you will still need to contact your health insurance provider directly to make each payment.

  1. Why is short-term health insurance not compliant with the Affordable Care Act?

Short-term health insurance is not ACA-compliant because it does not include minimum essential coverage as outlined by the health law. If you have minimum essential coverage, then you can avoid the tax penalty.

  1. Will I avoid the tax penalty if I have short-term coverage?

Unfortunately, no, you will not avoid the tax penalty with just short-term coverage. As outlined above, short-term health insurance does not include minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act. You will still face the tax penalty, even if you feel short-term coverage is substantial enough for your lifestyle.

  1. What’s the point of purchasing short-term if I won’t avoid the tax penalty?

No matter what, you should have health insurance. Short-term is a great option for those who missed the Open Enrollment deadline, but who still want some sort of coverage. Having short-term coverage and paying the tax penalty could still be less expensive than going uninsured and facing medical bills on your own.

  1. Does a short-term plan cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions?

Unlike a major medical plan, short-term health insurance does not cover essential health benefits or pre-existing conditions. But short-term coverage is usually an inexpensive option that helps bridge the gap in times of transition.

Still have questions? Leave us a comment, and we’ll get you an answer!

 

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8 healthy fruits and veggies to fight off winter woes

by Lauren Mandel and Adam Tock

Is it really only mid-February? For most of us, this means the end of winter is nowhere in sight. When the temperatures drop, you may find yourself curled up on the couch with a good TV show, a giant bowl of comfort food, and of course, a nasty cold.

But there are fruits and vegetables you can eat to fight off disease, build up your energy, and overall, stay healthy until spring finally arrives. We have eight options that each serve an important purpose – and they’re delicious, too.

Fruits and veggies

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How do I pay my Obamacare premiums?

by Lauren Mandel

If you enrolled in health insurance for 2016, have you paid your first month’s premium? And if not, how do you pay?short term (3)

Let’s start with the basics: What is a premium?

A premium is the amount of money you pay to your health insurance provider every month (sometimes less often) to keep your coverage active. If you don’t pay your premium, your provider may delay or cancel your plan.

It’s important to remember even if you enrolled through a website like GoHealth.com, you still must send your premium payments directly to your provider. Follow any instructions you received from your provider about how and when to make these payments.

Once you pay your first month’s premium, your health insurance coverage will activate. Make sure to pay each month’s premium on time after that in order to keep your coverage active. Then you can make doctor appointments, fill prescriptions, and more without worrying that your coverage has been canceled.

Still have questions? You’ll get the fastest answers by contacting your health insurance provider directly, but you can also contact us at GoHealth by calling 888-322-7557.

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5 easy ways to help your children develop good dental health

by Lauren Mandel

When you consider your children’s health, do you think about dental care? Once your kids sprout their first teeth, do you take them to regular dentist appointments? Do you have a pediatric dentist who you trust?mom son teeth (2)

February is the perfect time to think about the answers to these questions, because it’s National Children’s Dental Health Month. Below are 5 ways you can help your children develop and maintain healthy dental habits.

Schedule dentist appointments

Even if your child has no – or barely any – teeth, they should have their first dentist visit by the time they turn 1. Make sure you schedule regular dentist visits from that point on, which can help prevent any dental issues in the future.

Use fluoride toothpaste

While regular brushing may be intuitive, it’s also important to make sure you’re using the right toothpaste. Nearly 1 in 5 children have at least one untreated cavity. What’s a great way to prevent cavities? Use toothpaste with fluoride, a nutrient that helps prevent tooth decay.

Limit sugar intake

Not only is sugar bad for your health, but it can also lead to dental issues in children. If you’re thinking sugar is only in candy, you’d be wrong. Sugary drinks, like juice and soda, can lead to serious dental issues at a very early age. Monitor and limit your child’s intake of all sugary products.

Get dental insurance

The most obvious way to protect your child is to get health insurance that covers their basic dental needs. While Open Enrollment has ended for the year, there are certain circumstances that may allow you to enroll in coverage now.

Save even more money

Whether or not you have dental insurance for your children, there are also other ways to save money on their dental services. GoHealth Access can help you save up to 50 percent on regular cleanings, cavity fillings, and much more for your whole family.

Want to learn more about GoHealth Access? Call 866-937-1057 today.

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9 covered health care services you may not know about

by Lauren Mandel

By now, it’s clear that all Americans need to have health insurance. However, what may be less clear is what health care services your plan actually covers.

There are some covered health care services you may already know about, like yearly doctor visits. But we’ve taken a look at 9 of the lesser-known health care services that are covered by your plan – and that you should starting taking advantage of now for you and your family.boy grocery cart (3)

Counseling for tobacco use

Despite the warning signs, an estimated 40 million adults in the United States still currently smoke cigarettes. What would help make it easier for these millions of people to quit? Counseling and support. Now under the Affordable Care Act, you can get counseling for your tobacco use to help you kick this bad habit.

Flu shots

Flu season is in full-force, and winter doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. The best way you can protect yourself from sneezing and sniffling is to take preventative measures and get a flu shot. The vaccine is offered at most local clinics – and it’s covered with no cost-sharing.

Autism screenings

In the United States alone, autism affects over 3 million individuals, but it can be difficult to diagnose, especially because autism hits its patients at such a young age. Thankfully, screenings to help determine whether or not your child has autism are now a covered health care service under the health law.

FDA-approved contraceptives

While this has been controversial in the past, the government recently released clarification stating contraception must be covered under the Affordable Care Act. Insurers are required to cover at least one of the 18 FDA-approved contraceptive methods, so check with your doctor to see which are covered by your plan.

Over-the-counter aspirin

For many at-risk Americans, taking a daily aspirin can help lower the risk for heart attack. And now, with a prescription, your over-the-counter aspirin could be covered by your health plan. Consult with your doctor to see if a daily aspirin is right for your health.

Mental health counseling

Depression affects nearly 7 percent of the adult population in a given year. If you’re feeling depressed, you should never have to face those feelings alone. And now thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you won’t have to: mental health counseling, as well as screenings, are now covered health care services.

Pediatric dental care

If you want your children to grow up happy and healthy, it’s important to pay attention to their dental health. Just like general pediatric services, pediatric dental care is also a covered health care service under the health law. So whenever you make a doctor appointment for your little ones, you can make a dentist appointment, too.

Fluoride supplements for children

While this one may seem more obscure, fluoride is very important for your children’s development and dental health. Many children don’t receive the proper dose of fluoride, a nutrient that can help fight cavities, from their natural water source. So now, fluoride supplements are covered for those in need.

Breastfeeding support

For many first-time moms, breastfeeding can be a challenge. What equipment do you need to purchase? How long should you breastfeed your newborn? Is breastfeeding the right choice for you? Under the Affordable Care Act, you now have access to various covered services to help you out, including counseling and supplies.

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What you should know about Zika virus and your health care

by Lauren Mandel

Over the past few weeks, you may have heard more and more about Zika, something that has always been considered a very rare virus. However, after first making its presence known in Brazil, Zika has now infected people in more than 20 countries in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. And the World Health Organization just declared Zika an international health emergency.Mosquito

You also may have heard that the Zika virus – which most commonly spreads to humans through mosquito bites – is especially dangerous when contracted by pregnant women. Researchers believe Zika may be linked to a rise in “microcephaly,” a birth defect that causes small heads and incomplete brain development in newborn babies.

The news of Zika is still relatively new, and while there aren’t yet answers to every important question, below is basic information to help you learn the facts about the Zika virus.

How do you get Zika?

According to researchers, the Zika virus is mainly spread through mosquitoes: a mosquito bites a human with the Zika virus, the mosquito becomes infected with Zika, and then it goes on to bite other humans, therefore spreading the virus. However, there could be other ways to spread and contract Zika. Some believe it could be sexually transmitted, and it can also be transmitted through blood and from mother to fetus.

Who is at risk of getting infected?

Anyone, but the risk is greatest for pregnant women. In most people, Zika may result in a rash or flu-like symptoms that eventually go away. An estimated 80 percent of people who contract the virus show no symptoms at all. But for pregnant women, the results can be much more severe.

What could happen if a pregnant woman contracts Zika?

The main concern for pregnant women who get Zika is that the virus may be the cause of serious birth defects, including incomplete brain development and babies born with small heads. Babies born with “microcephaly” can also have a range of other health problems, including vision and hearing loss, seizures, and learning disabilities.

If I’m pregnant, what precautions should I take against Zika?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued travel notices, advising pregnant women to “practice enhanced precautions” when it comes to traveling to countries where the Zika virus has spread. These countries include El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, and Venezuela, as well as the entire country of Mexico and many other countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

If you must travel to one of these countries, it’s extremely important to protect yourself from mosquito bites by using bug spray, putting up mosquito tents, and wearing long, thick clothing.

If I’m traveling to one of these countries, will my health insurance coverage any treatment costs should I get Zika?

When venturing outside the United States, it’s always important to consider getting travelers insurance. While some health plans may cover health care services abroad, many do not. So if you contract Zika while abroad, you may have to come back to the United States to seek treatment.

How do I find out if I have Zika?

As of right now, there are no commercial companies offering a test for Zika; only the CDC and a few health labs can conduct these tests. However, if you exhibit symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.

What do I do if I find out I have Zika?

If you think you may have the Zika virus, talk to your doctor right away. He or she may prescribe a drug such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to relieve fever and pain, but do not take any aspirin. Under the Affordable Care Act, prescription drugs are covered as one of 10 Essential Health Benefits, so don’t be afraid to fill a prescription for a medication you need. You should also get rest and drink plenty of fluids.

If you need help finding a doctor, professionals who are part of GoHealth Access can help you locate one who is in your network and who can effectively treat the Zika virus. Here is more information on treating the Zika virus in pregnant women.

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Prioritize your health during American Heart Month

by Lauren Mandel and Leon Macapagal

Did you know February is American Heart Month? Did you also know heart disease is the leading cause of death in women?

Heart disease and other heart issues can be avoided, and during American Heart Month, we encourage you to take your future into your own hands. Here are just a few ways you can achieve your healthiest heart in February.

American Heart Month

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What to Know Before Obamacare Open Enrollment Ends

by Lauren Mandel

It’s finally here: the last weekend of 2016 Obamacare Open Enrollment. What does that mean for you? It means if you don’t have health insurance by now, you better hurry up and get it before Sunday night’s deadline.opensign

As a reminder, all Americans are required by law to have health insurance or face a fine. That fine, on average, could be almost $1,000 per person this year, so you’re better off enrolling in health insurance before it’s too late.

Think you don’t need health insurance? Well, there are countless reasons why you do. We’ve explained why going without coverage can be extremely expensive, as well as all the other (much more exciting) ways you could spend your tax penalty money.

If you think you can’t afford health insurance, you could be wrong. There are now financial assistance options thanks to the Affordable Care Act, including tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Make sure you find out if you qualify for one of these subsidies before enrolling in a plan.

And if you were automatically re-enrolled in your plan from last year, you still have time to change your coverage. Learn more about the steps you should take to explore your plan options and potentially save more money.

Last year, a deadline extension was announced to give people one last chance to get the coverage they needed. However, this year is different: there will be no deadline extension for Open Enrollment. This means your absolute final deadline is this Sunday, Jan. 31.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Visit GoHealth.com to find your 2016 health plan now.

 

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Last chance to avoid the Obamacare tax penalty

by Lauren Mandel

We’ve explained the tax penalty before, but now is the time when the potential consequences of going uninsured might start to feel real.tax penalty

There are just a few days left of Obamacare Open Enrollment, which means if you have yet to enroll in a 2016 health plan, you only have a few weeks left to avoid the tax penalty.

As a reminder, if your household chooses not to get health insurance, you could end up paying an average fine of almost $1,000. And paying this fine doesn’t mean you suddenly have health insurance; you’ll still be uninsured and unprotected against additional medical costs.

Don’t let the deadline pass you by. January 31 will be here before you know it, so now is the time to find coverage for you and for your family before it’s too late. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to find a health plan until the next Open Enrollment period begins in the fall.

If you think you can’t afford health insurance, you might be wrong: With the help of Obamacare subsidies, you could find a plan that’s affordable and has all the benefits you need to stay safe and healthy. Last year, 8 out of 10 people who enrolled in a health insurance plan qualified for financial assistance

Visit GoHealth.com to find the right plan for your needs today.

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