Tis the Season – For Health Insurance!

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Now that Halloween is over, we all start thinking about the upcoming holidays—but you should also be thinking about health insurance.  November 1 to December 15 is open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is where you can get health insurance if you can’t otherwise get it through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Do you really need health insurance?

When money is tight, it’s easy to overlook the importance of health insurance. But without insurance, you are less likely to get medical care when needed. What you think is a minor ailment could end up lasting longer than necessary, or even result in a major medical condition going undiagnosed. All of which can lead to lost time from work, less money in your pocket, and possibly even a shorter life span. Having and using health insurance helps you stay healthy by preventing illness and identifying and managing chronic conditions. Health insurance also reduces your health care expenses. Reports tell us that medical bills from major illnesses are one of the largest reasons for bankruptcies. (We definitely don’t want this to happen.)

You may still be worrying about the cost, but don’t let that stop you from getting a plan. When you apply in Maryland, you may qualify for financial assistance! Maryland Health Connection reports that last year, 90% of people who enrolled in insurance received financial assistance. So why not give it a try? The risk of not having insurance is far worse.

Here’s how you can get insurance now!

Between now and December 15 make sure that you get health insurance.  If you live in Delaware visit the Choose Health Delaware website. If you live in Maryland, visit the Maryland Health Connection, click on the “How to Enroll” tab, and sign up for a plan.

If you need help, assistance is always available by clicking the “Find Help” tab.  Local navigators are also available to meet with you in-person. In New Castle County, make an appointment with a Westside Family Healthcare assistor. Call 302-472-8655. In Kent/Sussex Counties, call Westside Family Healthcare assistors at 302-678-2205.

We have also developed some consumer resources to help you through this process. I highly recommend that you look at the Marketplace Health Insurance Financial Help information sheet and the My Smart Choice Workbook.  You will notice two workbooks (content is the same) on the website.  One has auto-populated forms which means that you can enter numbers and totals are calculated automatically.

-Jesse Ketterman University of Maryland Extension Educator