Updated October 2020
With the annual open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act opening soon, now’s the time for families across the United States to take some time and carefully consider their current health insurance coverage.
Even if you’re more than happy with your current plan, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the other options available to you.
Shopping around each year gives you a better sense of what’s out there, and you may find something that you like – and can afford – even more.
Plus, rates for many plans are dropping in 2021.
Still not convinced? Here are five good reasons to shop for health insurance even if you like your current plan.
Your situation has changed.
When you signed up for a health insurance plan last year, your life may have been very different from what is right now. Maybe you got married, adopted a child, had a baby or moved to a new state.
Big changes can have an impact on the type of health insurance that your family needs.
By shopping around, you may be able to switch to a more affordable plan or one that better covers the ongoing medical needs of your current family situation. These situations often trigger a special enrollment period, too, so if they happen again sometime in 2021, take that opportunity to shop for new coverage when you need it.
#2) You’ve got some new medical problems.
Maybe you or one of your family members got hit with an unexpected diagnosis this year, like diabetes or cancer. Or maybe the news is good news, and the pitter-patter of little feet will fill your home in 2021. (Congratulations if that’s the case, by the way.)
Whether it’s good or bad news, you’ve got a chronic problem or a new one, a yearly checkup into your healthcare coverage will keep those medical costs in check.
Assess your health needs for the year, comparing them to the current year.
If you know your situation – a new baby on the way or another round of chemotherapy, for example – then it’s easier to plan for those expenses and find a plan with the right coverage.
Of course, you can’t plan for everything, so use your current medical history as a gauge for how much coverage you might need next year.
#3) Your finances have changed.
For many Americans, deciding which health insurance plan to buy comes down to how much money they can afford to spend each month. If that’s true for you, then it’s a good idea to shop around this year.
Prices for the silver benchmark plans on the marketplace have dropped by about 2 percent nationwide (on average), meaning you have a better chance of finding affordable health insurance in 2021.
If money’s a little tighter than it used to be, consider swapping your expensive plan for one with higher cost sharing but lower premiums.
On the other hand, if you have a little extra cash left over at the end of every month nowadays, it may be worth upgrading your plan to one that offers lower deductibles or lower copays with a higher premium. Upgrading your plan in this way is a great way to avoid being underinsured.
#4) Your job changed.
Just as a change in your financial situation can impact your health insurance options, so too can a change in your career. This time last year, the adults in your family may both have been working in jobs that offered health insurance benefits. It might not have made sense to shop for private coverage.
But if one or more members of your family have lost health insurance benefits through an employer, this may change the health insurance dynamics in your household. Open enrollment is the perfect time to take stock and see what all of your options are for coverage in the next year.
#5) Your network shrank.
You might be aware that your health plan limits you to in-network providers or covers much less for non-network ones. Going to an out-of-network doctor can cost quite a lot of money.
If your current network feels too small, shop for a plan with a broader network or better coverage for non-network providers.
This may be especially useful for people living in rural areas or areas without access to a lot of specialists. If you need an endocrinologist and the only one in the area who treats your condition falls outside your plan’s network, it’s time to think about expanding that network with a new policy.
The open enrollment period for major medical insurance runs until December 15 in most states, and coverage will start on January 1 next year. Take the next few weeks to consider your health needs and budget, and find a plan that works for you in 2021.