Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hey, Doc: How Many Plans Can I Pick From? Can I Keep My Current Plan?

We know health reform is big and confusing. Some parts of the law started in 2010. Other parts are rolling out over the next several years. Texas physicians and the Texas Medical Association have carefully studied the law to help you understand what the changes mean to your health care.

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to roll out, Me&My Doctor’s “Hey Doc” series will answer your frequently-asked questions, as well as some you might not have thought to ask.

Check out part nine in this series.

Q. How do I pick a plan? How many plans can I pick from?

A. To pick a plan, visit where you’ll fill out an application to see a list of insurance companies and plans participating in your area. Your choices will depend mostly on where you live and the type of plan you want. Keep in mind that one insurance company might sell a bunch of different plans with different levels of coverage and prices. Once you enter a few pieces of information, like your family size and where you live, you can see and compare different plans and price estimates in your area. You won't get a final quote until you actually fill out an application.

So far in Texas, there are about a dozen different insurance companies participating in the marketplace, and they are selling roughly 100 different plans across the state. Again, your choices will depend mostly on where you live. Some areas of the state, especially rural areas, might have fewer insurance options than others.

That might seem like a lot of information to go through. But there are some things you can do ahead of time to figure out what kind of insurance you need. (See “How can I get ready to sign up?” from “Hey, Doc.”) and also have some helpful checklists.

Q. Can I keep the plan I have now? 

A. Most likely, yes. You can keep the plan you have now as long as it meets the new rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you have your own insurance or a job-based plan that existed before the health reform law was passed in 2010, it is possible that nothing needs to change. Check with your insurance company or employer to find out. (See “If I have insurance through my work or my spouse or my parents, do I have to give that up and buy insurance through the marketplace?” from “Hey Doc.”)

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