Health Care 2021: Open Enrollment and Access to Care

Health Care 2021: Open enrollment and access to care as well as affordable health insurance will be major considerations between now and the end of November.  They will also greatly impact how we live our lives in 2021.

Health care continues to be in the news on a daily basis- primarily focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to follow the CDC recommendations: masks worn in public places or social gatherings (covering your nose and mouth), social distancing, frequent and thorough hand washing. Please also have a flu shot in the next few weeks. While the shot will not protect you from COVID, it will help protect you from some of the other nasty germs to which we are exposed as we spend more time indoors in the colder weather.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/covid-19-is-now-the-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-u-s1/

Health Care 2021: Open Enrollment begins October 15 for Medicare enrollees. Employer offered plans and ACA optsion will be available beginning in November. Everyone should review your plan options in detail this year.

It has been announced that Medicare Part B premiums will not increase in 2021. This is good news. Did you know that half of people enrolled in a traditional Medicare plan, not an Advantage plan, spend at least a sixth of their income on health care?

https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2020/congress-medicare-part-b.html?cmp=EMC-DSO-NLC-WBLTR—MCTRL-100920-TS2-4917165&ET_CID=4917165&ET_RID=5958535&encparam=3qDTzqplHRU0nCS3AeEOepbHIKJsWo7DP0QHgJxNgzU%3d

Information about 2021 medical insurance premiums for employer-based plans is beginning to be released. Many plans are keeping their employee paid premium portion at the same level as in 2020. While COVID treatments are expensive, elective procedures for the first half of the year sharply declined, resulting in savings to the insurance companies.

Job-Based Health Insurance Costs Are Up 4% This Year, 55% in Past Decade

No matter what medical insurance coverage you choose, check your drug coverage costs and options. Co-pays and the cost of your prescriptions might be changing for next year. Ask your pharmacist for assistance, check the drug calculator tools if you are a Medicare recipient, check your insurer’s website for details on your particular plan or call and speak with a representative at your insurance provider.

the affordable care act and pre-existing conditions

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments regarding the validity of the Affordable Care Act in November. If this program is eliminated, millions will be without health coverage. There is speculation that the pre-existing condition waiver will also be eliminated. If you have received a diagnosis of COVID it will be considered a pre-existing condition and you might be facing higher out of pocket expenses than you had anticipated for future medical treatments. Other diagnoses will also be regarded differently if the pre-existing clause is no longer in effect. Insurance coverage will become more difficult to obtain for individuals with these previously overed diagnoses. https://www.kff.org/f0a2990/#433509

Access to Care is changing for many throughout the country as they lose their health insurance coverage due to furlough or job elimination. The health care system has already been unduly strained because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the additional, unanticipated costs associated with providing care to patients diagnosed with COVID as well as providing PPE for caregivers. Many of the newly unemployed are unable to afford the COBRA premiums. One advantage of an employer based medical plan is the reduced premiums which the employee pays.

Be aware that if the ACA program is eliminated, it will likely also impact the state run, federally subsidized, Medicaid programs throughout the country. Many of these programs expanded in recent years and are covering many who did not previously have health insurance. In short, we could be facing more uninsured in this country than we had before ACA; which was over 27 million people.

Refuge in the Storm? ACA’s Role as Safety Net Is Tested by COVID Recession

Health Care 2021: Open Enrollment and Access to Care

Become familiar with your current plan benefits and your options for coverage for 2021 as you prepare for open enrollment and consideration your access to care next year. While your premiums might not increase, it is very possibls your out of pocket responsibilities may increase. Also understand what is covered and not covered by your plan. Finally, ask your doctors if they are covered by the plan you are thinking of choosing for next year. Ask questions, seek assistance in understanding your health care coverage, and stay safe during these unsettling times.

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