It’s hard to believe we are in September, and we will be ringing in 2021 before we blink. This is the time of year most employers start analyzing employee benefits and planning for the new year. For individuals, open enrollment begins November 1 and ends on December 15. Also, many companies renew their health coverage benefits in the fourth quarter. So, now is the perfect time to get ahead of the rush and schedule a meeting with your insurance broker.
Health insurance plans for both employer groups and individuals for 2021 will be available to view in October. You can compare many of the market’s plans side-by-side on beWellnm.com. While the plans are categorized by metal level – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – the offerings within each category and by health insurance carrier will vary significantly. So, it’s important to know, when comparing plans in this manner, you may not be comparing apples to apples. The good news is there are many choices that may fit your specific needs; the more challenging issue is that understanding the choices can be difficult.
Working with an insurance broker will clarify each insurance company’s offerings and ensure you understand how the plan works, so you can more easily decide what is best for your specific situation. Plans vary in benefits and cost. Bronze plans typically have the least expensive premiums, while platinum plans generally have the most expensive. Out-of-pocket costs will vary by plan and will be based on your anticipated use of health care services. An experienced insurance broker can help you navigate the commonly overlooked differences that sometimes lead to unexpected costs.
Too frequently, I’ve heard employers mention they selected a plan based on price alone, only to find out later that “cheaper can become expensive,” when they or an employee experience a health issue and the out-of-pocket expenses are an unexpected surprise or become difficult to manage. This is where an insurance broker is worth their weight in gold. A good broker will look at your organization’s makeup, help you determine what benefits are crucial, and recommend options that bring you the most value for your premium. In today’s health insurance world, employers can offer more than one plan to their employees giving each employee the flexibility of choosing the best plan for their situation. Again, a good health insurance broker will lead employee meetings and explain the nuances associated with each option.
An important consideration as we move into 2021 is that there has been very high demand for and access to behavioral health services and medications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these unprecedented times, I encourage you to focus on your plan’s behavioral health coverage just as you would for physical health.
True Health New Mexico has a wealth of information at truehealthnewmexico.com/employers-and-producers. Another good source for information is bewellnm.com/small-business-health-insurance.
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: There’s more to buying health insurance than the price