Saturday, January 28, 2023

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Chance Approaches for Washingtonians to Make Health-Plan Changes

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Wednesday, October 12, 2022   

The new year is still a few months off, but it's nearly time for people to consider their health plans for 2023.

The Affordable Care Act's health care marketplace opens Nov. 1. It offers people a chance to reconsider their plans and see if they want to make any changes, or choose a new one.

David Iseminger, director of the employees and retirees benefits division for the Washington State Health Care Authority, said people's life circumstances change.

"It's always a good idea just to refresh," Iseminger advised. "Especially if there's anything that you've been experiencing in your health plan where you're like, 'Hmm, I wonder if there's something different.'"

Iseminger pointed out the open enrollment schedule is a bit different for state employees. For most public and charter school employees, the window is Oct. 31 through Nov. 21. For other state employees and retirees from state employment, open enrollment is Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. He said people will remain in the same program if they do not make any changes.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, said people should remember to look into each plan's mental-health options.

"In addition to in-person mental health care, you might have access to a very large virtual network of licensed mental-health professionals, like therapists and psychiatrists," Randall stressed. "Some insurers also offer digital tools for mental health, and advocacy services to help you navigate those needs."

Randall noted adding dental, vision or hearing coverage are other considerations, as well as double-checking whether the plan covers prescription drugs. She added plans have evolved during the pandemic, so it is not always necessary to go into a doctor's office.

"Plans that include virtual care services, for both medical conditions as well as behavioral health conditions, have become very popular," Randall observed. "We've seen the utilization of those increase. You're also looking for a plan that has not only virtual health options, but a connection to in-person care as well."

For people enrolling through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace at HealthCare.gov, they will need to sign up by Dec. 15 to have coverage on Jan. 1.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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