Dean Cameron, the director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, shared tips for picking a health insurance plan in Tuesday’s AARP virtual town hall.
The open enrollment period for health insurance begins Thursday and runs through Dec. 15.
Cameron said people need to consider the “four Cs” when thinking about whether a given plan works for them or not.
- Convenience: Particularly with the increase in telehealth use due to COVID-19, it’s important to ask if a given plan has telehealth availability. In February, Cameron said, there were 200 telehealth visits ; that jumped to 28,000 in April. Even if a plan does offer telehealth services, Cameron said, it’s important to make sure it allows a customer to see their regular doctor. “Are they making you talk to a doctor in California instead of your local doctor if you use telemedicine?” Cameron asked.
- Cost: Cameron said most of the costs on plans this year are fairly flat. Although the country has seen a recession in recent months, people have been going to doctors less often. Many hospitals restricted elective procedures for at least some period of time, and virtual visits with health officials are less expensive than in-person visits. Thus, carriers themselves have seen fewer costs.
- Coverage: Health care plans are not one size fits all. Different plans may work better for people in different circumstances, so it’s important to shop around before settling on a good fit, Cameron said. “You want a plan that fits your medical needs.”
- Customer satisfaction: Ultimately, Cameron said, a person should be happy with their health care plan and with the customer service they receive. If they aren’t, there are resources available to look for other plans. Plans are rated on a scale between one and five. “Most of the plans receive a three or a four, and they’re pretty good,” he said.
Seniors can call the Idaho Department of Insurance’s senior health insurance benefits advisors at 1-800-247-4422 for more information.