ATLANTA - When we signed up for health insurance this time last year, few of us could have imagined we would be facing a once-in-a-100-years pandemic.
That's the challenge of choosing your healthcare coverage during the Open Enrollment period: you don't know what to expect in 2021.
JoAnn Volk, a researcher professor at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms, recommends you start by making sure the doctors you want to keep seeing in 2021 are part of the insurance plan you are considering.
"Some plans will let you see doctors who aren't in-network, but you'll pay more," Volk says. "So, you want to understand what those costs are. Other plans won't even cover it. So, you want to make sure you understand the rules for providers if you have some that you definitely want to see."
Your premium is what you pay monthly for coverage.
Your deductible is how much you'll pay out of pocket each year before your insurance kicks in.
"Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium," Volk says. "So, I guess another tip is, don't be drawn in just by that premium, because it allows for something else that is going on because of that premium, whether it's fewer providers covered or more that you have to pay out of pocket."
If you've lost your job and your health insurance with it, you may be eligible to continue on your former employer's coverage through COBRA.
Volk recommends considering all your choices, because, she says, going with COBRA will be more costly that finding a plan on the federal health insurance exchange.
"(It is) About $600 more a month based on the national average of what people are paying for an independent plan," she says. "You can get a plan on the marketplace for $350 a month or a plan that's comparable to an employer plan for $400 a month. So ,there's definitely better bargains on the marketplace than what you would pay under COBRA."
If you can afford it, Volk says to make sure you are covered for 2021.
"It's an important time to have coverage and not go without," she says.