BEND, OR -- It's time to shop for 2016 health insurance coverage. The federal marketplace is now open for enrollment. But, Jesse O'Brien, with the consumer group OSPIRG, says you must shop around to get the best plan. "Plan designs and benefits, and especially rates, can change from year to year, and the rates are changing quite a bit for next year. I would advise everybody, if you're buying a plan for yourself and your family, even if you like your current plan, I would strongly recommend shopping around before renewing."
Many insurance companies have raised premiums this year, but O'Brien tells KBND News that's not the only thing to consider. "Don't just look at the premium. Out of pocket charges for healthcare services, and prescription drugs especially, can quickly break the bank if you aren't careful, especially if you have health conditions that need regular medical attention. Plans that have lower premiums often have higher out of pocket costs, so you should be sure to check what the co-pays and deductibles and co-insurance rates are. "
O'Brien adds, "The online marketplace at healthcare.gov has a new tool that's new this year that helps provide a fairly rough but still a real estimate of yearly out of pocket expenses for each plan. So, that can be helpful. I also recommend people look at the details of costs and coverage for different services, which are available in the plans' Summary of Benefits and Coverage document."
In Oregon, 240,000 buy their own health coverage. Consumers have until January 31 to sign up for a 2016 health plan. But, if you want coverage to begin on January first, you must enroll by December 15.