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GoHealth answers top questions: Pre-existing conditions

With so much news focused on the potential changes to the health care system, consumers have many questions about the shortened 2018 Open Enrollment Period. In our new blog series, we’ll be answering your questions about health insurance, Open Enrollment and The Affordable Care Act.

 

If I have diabetes or another pre-existing condition, can I enroll in a health insurance plan?

Even though the 2018 Open Enrollment Period is shorter, the current health law is still in place. Meaning, if you have a pre-existing condition insurers cannot deny you coverage. That being said, it’s important to keep your health condition in mind when selecting a health insurance plan. How often you anticipate seeing a doctor could influence the type of plan you choose.

To figure out which type of plan will fit your personal needs, call to talk to one of our licensed agents at no cost to you: (888) 322-7557.

If I have asthma or another pre-existing condition, will I have to pay more for health insurance?

Again, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers cannot deny or charge you more money for health insurance if you have a pre-existing condition.

To shop for a health plan or if you have additional questions, give us a call at GoHealth at (888) 322-7557.

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How to prepare for Open Enrollment

During Open Enrollment, individuals and families can enroll in a health insurance plan, or make changes to an existing plan.

Open Enrollment for 2018 begins November 1, 2017 and ends December 15, 2017. You must enroll in health insurance during this window in order for your coverage to begin as early as January 1, 2018.

The only way to get insurance outside of the Open Enrollment Period is if you experience a qualifying life event or become eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

If you’re planning to enroll in health insurance or make changes to an existing plan during this year’s Open Enrollment, we recommend you complete these 5 steps before you enroll.

 

1. Make sure you and your family qualify for individual health insurance

You may not be eligible to get a plan through the open Marketplace if you can get insurance through your job or employer. Additionally, if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, these options will be more affordable than an individual health plan.

 

2. Estimate your household income

Before you enroll in a health plan, you will need to estimate your pre-tax household income for the upcoming year. Make sure to account for any potential raises, additional income or loss in income for the adults in the household in 2018.

 

3. Have personal information available and ready

When you enroll in a health plan, you will have to provide social security numbers, dates of birth and immigration paperwork, if necessary, for everyone who will be on your health plan. Storing this information in an easily accessible place will make the process of enrolling much smoother.

 

4. Have employer information and tax returns on hand

In addition to social security numbers and birth dates, you’re also required to provide everyone’s employer information including the business name, address and phone number. To help determine whether you will qualify for tax credits or other savings, it is important to have your tax return from last year on hand as well.

 

5. Pick a plan

Choosing a plan may seem overwhelming, but licensed agents are available to talk you through the process and help find a plan that fits your specific needs. To talk with an agent about which types of plans are right for you and your family, visit GoHealth or call (888) 322-7557.

 

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2018 Open Enrollment dates you should know

Open Enrollment – the period during which you can enroll in or change an existing health insurance plan – can be confusing. With deadlines to follow, health terms to know, and health plans to choose from, the process itself can be intimidating.  That’s why we’ve listed the most important dates to know below. In addition, you can follow our Open Enrollment countdown on our Facebook page to stay updated and informed.

October 15, 2017: Medicare Open Enrollment Begins

Between October 15, 2017 and December 7, 2017, those eligible for Medicare can enroll in a Medicare plan or make updates to their current plan. Want to enroll in a plan? Call 877-871-9850 to enroll in a plan.

 

November 1, 2017: Open Enrollment Begins

Between November 1, 2017 and December 15, 2017, you can enroll in a health plan that will begin providing coverage as early as January 1, 2018. Want to talk to a licensed agent about your options? Give us a call at 877-871-9850.

 

December 7, 2017: Medicare Open Enrollment Ends

If you need coverage outside of Open Enrollment, see if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

 

December 15, 2017: Open Enrollment Ends

If you need coverage outside of Open Enrollment, you have options. In addition, see if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

 

January 1, 2018: Health coverage begins as long as you’ve paid your first premium.

 

 

 

This blog post is for educational purposes only. If you’re interested in Medicare coverage, please visit GoMedicare.com.

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4 steps to healthy aging

It’s never too late to take steps to improve your health. Research shows that many of the same strategies to improve physical health can also improve mental health and sharpness as we age. Since September is National Healthy Aging month, we’ve provided four ways you can ensure your mind and body age healthy.

1. Get up and move daily

Exercise has powerful impacts on the body. Exercising regularly lowers your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and even cancer. Exercise is also one of the best ways to help prevent dementia. How much exercise should you be getting? Experts say 30 minutes of exercise every day is good for your body. This might sound like a lot of time, but there are ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Try taking the stairs, walking to work, or playing with your kids outside after school.

 

2. Cherish your relationships

A Harvard longitudinal study that began almost 80 years ago revealed that the key to happiness in life is having meaningful relationships with other people, family and friends. The study found that close relationships was more important to the quality of life than money or fame. In fact, “several studies found that people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels.” This study proves the importance of staying connected to the ones we love.

 

3. Keep learning something new

Puzzles, reading, games and learning new skills can all help keep the brain sharp as you age. Try to make it a goal to keep learning as you age. Learning new skills, like a language or an instrument, can help challenge your brain and improve functioning.

 

4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

The goal of eating healthy doesn’t always have to be related to weight loss. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oils, and fish can help your body and mind work better. Those who follow the Mediterranean-style diet often lose weight and live longer. It should go without saying, but if you want to live longer and age better, give up smoking and limit your alcohol intake as well.

Curious how health coverage can help you and your family as you age? Visit our gohealth.com or call 877-871-9850 to speak to a licensed agent.

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A guide to health insurance for single parents

If you’re a single parent, you probably don’t get much time to yourself. You have your hands full with kids, your career, and running a household. While being a single parent can be overwhelming, you should prioritize finding health insurance to protect you and your kids in the future. Below is GoHealth’s guide to health insurance for single parents.

Find out if you or your child qualify for free health coverage

With a single income, there’s a chance you could qualify for your state’s Medicaid or CHIP program, which offer free or low-cost health insurance to children and adults that meet certain requirements. Each state is different, so check with yours to see if you qualify.

If you find yourself ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP, you still have options. Under the Affordable Care Act, you could qualify for tax credits to help lower the price for health coverage. Based on your income, if you qualify for tax credits the government will help you pay for your health coverage.

 

Understand the benefits covered under the law

Under the law, there are 10 essential benefits that must be covered by your health plan including regular checkups, mental health services, emergency services and more. If you choose to go without coverage, not only could you face a fine, but you would have to pay out-of-pocket for benefits that would otherwise be included with health coverage. Learn more about which benefits are covered under the law.

 

Choose a plan that fits your needs

Before you shop for a plan on the Marketplace, check with your employer to see what health coverage options are available to you.

There are five categories, otherwise known as metal levels, of health plans to choose from on the Marketplace. These plans include Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Catastrophic. Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, but high deductibles. On the flip side, Platinum plans have the highest monthly premiums, but lowest costs when you need care. If you anticipate having to go to the doctor often, a Platinum plan could save you money on major medical bills. However, if you do not see a doctor often and want to pay low monthly premiums, a Bronze plan could be best for you and your family.

It’s important to consider your options before choosing a plan. To talk through your options with a licensed agent, you can visit our website at www.gohealth.com or call us at 888-322-7557 now.

 

 

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How therapy can help kids cope with bullying

Over the past several years, modern-day bullying – cyberbullying – has increased due to easy access to the Internet and social media platforms. Bullying is most common for school aged children, and can greatly impact self-esteem and even interfere with social and intellectual development.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, or that your child may be bullying, counseling or therapy could help. Therapy offers a safe place to express feelings of anger, shame, anxiety, isolation, and more. In therapy, bullies may begin to understand the impact of their bullying and can learn how to better communicate with their peers.

Under the Affordable Care Act, all Marketplace health plans must cover behavioral health treatment, including counseling and therapy as well as substance abuse treatment. The Affordable Care Act also includes “mental health parity,” which means mental health services must be treated equally to physical health services.  To find out the details of your mental health coverage and where you can find a therapist in your network, you can check your plan description, visit your insurer’s online portal or call to speak with an agent directly.

If your insurance does not cover therapy, you still have options. Some counselors and therapists do not require insurance coverage for treatment, and you can pay out-of-pocket for each session. In addition to paying privately for counseling, you can reach out to community health providers for treatment. Community treatment centers often offer low-cost options for therapy in your area.

If you’re worried about your child being bullied or bullying others, there are many alternative ways to address the situation at home. However, keep in mind that seeking professional help through counseling or therapy may also be an affordable and effective resource.

Have questions about mental health coverage? We can help. Visit www.gohealth.com or call (888) 322 – 7557 to speak to our licensed agents.

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Health coverage options for college students

Are you heading off to college this fall? If so, health insurance is likely one of the last things on your mind. You’re preoccupied with move-ins, meeting new people, and choosing a major – or two! However, it’s important to make sure you’re covered in the event of an illness, accident, or emergency now that you’re away from home. Below, we talk about health insurance options for college students, so you can brief yourself before Welcome Week begins.

If you’re under 26 years of age…

If you’re under 26 you can be considered a dependent on your parent’s health plan.

Keep in mind that if you’re going to school in a different state from your parents, you should make sure their health plan covers care in your state. If your parent’s provider network does not cover costs in the state you go to school, you may want to consider applying for your own health insurance in the state you decide to go to school. Moving to a different city could qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, allowing you to apply for coverage outside of Open Enrollment.

If you’re over 26 years of age…

If you’re over the age of 26, you can enroll in a 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace plan starting November 1, 2017. These plans must cover essential health benefits.

Depending on your school, student health plans may be available. You may also qualify for Medicaid depending on your income.

To find out which health plan is right for you, visit gohealth.com or give us a call at (888) 322 – 7557. Good luck in your first semester!

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Your back-to-school health checklist

After a summer of having the freedom to stay up late, eat sweet summer treats and run wild, kids are in for a wake up call as they return to school. Transitioning into a routine can be difficult for kids, so it’s important to prepare for the first day of school to ease the process. Keep reading for our advice on how to get your kids back on track for a healthy school year.

Schedule appointments

The new school year can also bring new health concerns. Scheduling annual health and dental checkups, vaccinations, vision exams, hearing tests, and even allergy tests before school starts can prevent health complications and illnesses during the school year. If your child has a health issue or allergy, contact the school to ensure it is known and to establish necessary action plans.

Practice and prepare

You can ease your child into their school routine by starting a similar routine a couple weeks before the first day of school. Practice going to bed and waking up a little earlier, as well as removing screen devices at night. Whether your kids are taking the bus, walking, or biking to school, make sure they know their route to school and the rules of the road.

In addition to preparing for the expected, it’s also important to prepare for the unexpected. Practice what to do in an emergency and make sure your child knows who to contact and how to get help in an emergency.

Ease Anxiety

After a long summer, it’s normal for kids and parents to feel anxious for the first day of school. To ease anxiety, make sure your child is getting enough exercise, sleep and nutrition in the days leading up to the start of the school year. In addition, talking about what to expect on the first day of school and planning outfits, lunches, and packing supplies ahead of time can also ease anxiety.

 

 

 

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August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. While you’re likely focused on back-to-school shopping and planning, this is a reminder to schedule your annual eye exams as well. Eye exams are especially important at a young age, since good eyesight leads to better learning.

How can an eye exam help my child?

Eye exams can identify a number of complications that are easily treated early on. Children’s eye exams can not only tell you if your child needs corrective lenses, but can also spot astigmatisms and “lazy eyes” and correct them.

When should I schedule my child’s first eye exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA), recommends that a child’s fist eye exam should be at six-months old. At this age, doctors can ensure that your child’s eyes are developing normally.

The AOA suggests school-aged children receive annual examinations, especially outside of school-offered vision screenings. As children grow, their eyes can change quickly, so annual checkups are a great way to spot and track any changes.

How can I pay for my child’s eye exam?

Paying for glasses and contacts can be expensive. However, vision insurance can help cover the costs of eye exams, as well as part of the costs associated with glasses and contacts.


How can I get the most out of my vision insurance?

There are multiple ways to get the most out of your vision insurance aside from scheduling annual checkups. At your checkup, ask to try on glasses so a doctor can give you accurate measurements for your glasses size. Consider buying glasses and contacts online rather than at the eye doctor. Purchasing online is most often the cheaper route, and sites like Warby Parker even offer a free home try on package.

Have questions about vision insurance? We can help! Call (888) 322-7557 or visit our website to speak with a licensed agent who can explain your options.

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Health insurance terms you should know

Have you ever felt intimidated by health care and health insurance terms? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that only about one in 10 people in the U.S. have a proficient level of health literacy. However, understanding health terms can save you time, money, and stress.

That’s why we created a health insurance dictionary including important terms to know. Happy learning!

 

GoHealth’s Health Insurance Dictionary

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the ACA is the healthcare reform legislation signed into law by President Obama is 2010.

Coinsurance

Similar to a copay, but it’s a percentage of the cost you owe to see your doctor, not a set price. Coinsurance can end up costing you more money, because unlike a copay, you don’t know how much any given doctor’s visit could cost. Like copays, coinsurance does not count toward your deductible. However, they both count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)

COBRA is a federal law that enables you to temporarily keep a group insurance plan through your employer should you leave your job or change to part-time hours.

Copay

The set amount of money you pay when you go to the doctor. Your copayment will depend on the type of plan you choose. Copays do not count toward your deductible but they do count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.

Deductible

The amount of money you have to pay out of pocket when you see a doctor before your health insurance starts to help with costs. Your deductible amount will depend on the type of plan you choose. Plans with lower monthly premiums usually have higher deductibles, but plans with higher monthly premiums have lower deductibles. If you anticipate going to the doctor often, a plan with a lower deductible could be in your best interest, since you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach your deductible. Keep in mind that deductibles reset and can change every year.

Dependents

Dependents are those that receive coverage on their family members plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, dependent coverage for children must be made available until age 26.

Essential health benefits
The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover benefits in ten categories. Non-grand fathered health plans must cover pediatric care, hospitalization, maternity care, newborn care, care for mental health and substance use disorders.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Money that is taken out of your paycheck and put toward an account owned by your employer. This money can only be spent on your health care expenses, but it does not roll over year to year or if you change jobs. Therefore, if you know for certain you will have health care costs this year, this might be an option.

Grandfathered health plans
Health insurance plans that were purchased on or before March 23, 2010. These plans do not have to abide by any provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Health Insurance Marketplace

Otherwise known as the affordable insurance exchange, these exchanges exist at the state and federal levels and allow individuals, families, and small businesses to evaluate their health coverage options and compare plans based on prices and coverage. You can enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment, which happens once per year.

Health insurance plans in the health insurance marketplace are divided into four categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. To find out which type of plan is right for you, visit our website or call (888) 322 – 7557 to speak with a licensed agent.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

Money that is taken out of your paycheck and put toward an account you own that can be spent only on health care expenses. The money taken out of your paycheck is tax-free and can roll over year to year.

In-network provider

A doctor that is approved by your insurance company. You can look online or call your insurance provider to find a doctor in your network. Going to a doctor in your network can save you money, but how much money depends on your plan.

Medicaid
Government-funded health care program that helps provide coverage for individuals and families with low incomes and with disabilities.

Medicare
Federal health care program for people over the age of 65 and younger people with specific disabilities.

Open Enrollment

The time period in which you can choose and sign up for next year’s health insurance. This year, Open Enrollment for coverage in 2018 starts November 1, 2017. Outside of Open Enrollment, the only way you can purchase health insurance is if you’ve had a qualifying life event.

Out-of-pocket maximum

The maximum amount you can spend on health care in a given year. Once you reach your out-of-pocket maximum, you’ll no longer have to pay copays and coinsurances for essential health benefits. However, for non-essential health benefits, the insurance provider might have limits on how much of your care it will cover.

Out-of-network provider

A doctor not in your network. Seeing a doctor outside of your network outside of an emergency may result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Premium

Your monthly bill for health insurance. To activate your health insurance, you must pay your first premium. Your monthly premium will depend on the type of plan you choose. Failure to make premium payments could result in loss of health coverage.

Preexisting condition
Specific illnesses or conditions that you had prior to purchasing health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans can no longer deny coverage or charge you more due to pre-existing conditions.

Preventive services
Preventive services are services that prevent illness and disease. Preventive services include routine check-ups, mammogram screenings, colonoscopies, blood pressure screenings and certain vaccines. The Affordable Care Act requires that preventive services be 100% covered by your health insurance plan.

Qualifying Life Event

A specific change in your living situation – like getting married, having a child, or losing health insurance – that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Special Enrollment Period

The time outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period where you can sign up for health insurance if you experience a qualifying life event.

Have questions about any of these terms? Visit our GoHealth.com or call (888) 322 – 7557 to speak with one of our experts.

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