3 Questions To Help Evaluate Your Health Insurance Plan Every Open Enrollment Period

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3 Questions To Help Evaluate Your Health Insurance Plan Every Open Enrollment Period

HSA Heath Savings Account

Open enrollment happens every year in the United States.

During this period, you can sign up for health insurance, make adjustments to your existing plan or even cancel your plan if it isn’t working for you. These plans will then take effect for your entire upcoming year.

A typical open enrollment period falls towards the end of the year – between November to December. For exact dates, check your respective state or insurance provider’s website in case of any differences where you are.

Most of you already know this.

The bigger question here is what happens during open enrollment and how you can ensure you get the best health insurance policy for yourself during this period.

To understand how this can work to your advantage, let’s first cover a little bit more of the basics about open enrollment:

Can I get health insurance outside of open enrollment?

There’s a simple reason why open enrollment happens: to prevent “skewed risk”.

What, you ask, does that mean?

In simple terms, everyone is treated with the same amount of importance during open enrollment. It prevents the potential situation where only sick people get insurance and healthy people don’t.

Therefore, you can only sign up to change your health insurance plan during open enrollment. The only exception to this rule is if you have a qualifying life event.

Some examples of qualifying life events are:

  • Loss of existing health coverage
  • Changes in your household or dependent needs
  • Changes in residence
  • Other qualifying events
  • Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
  • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen
  • Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
  • AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service

 

What if I have an existing health insurance policy?

If you have an existing health insurance plan, this doesn’t mean you should just let the open enrollment pass.

The open enrollment period is the best way for you to reassess what your health needs are. For example, if you are attached to a health insurance plan with your current employer, you can also disenroll in that and choose one that’s more suitable to your needs.

3 questions to ask to evaluate your existing health insurance plan.

Here are some question prompts to help you evaluate whether you need to change/upgrade your plan:

1 . Did I meet my deductible last year?
Deductibles are often more important than your monthly premiums. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance will pay out your benefits. If you have not met your deductible, or even gotten close, then you might be on the wrong plan! Consider a plan with a lower or even zero deductible, which might be more appropriate.

2. Was I able to see the doctors I wanted to easily?
What network is your plan a part of? If you are part of a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, you may be limited to the providers you can see. Moreover, you will need referrals from your primary care provider if you want to see a specialist.

A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network is much wider, nationwide coverage that travels with you where you go. You can see whichever provider you like, anytime! If you have the choice, pick the PPO.

Not sure where to get a PPO plan or how much it may cost? Give me a call. I’ll let you know.

3. Did my income fluctuate from last year?
Depending on where you obtained your health insurance policy, income may have a lot to do with how much you pay for your plan.

If your income went down, you might qualify for government assistance programs such as Medicaid or a government subsidy or tax credit.

If your income went up and you no longer qualify for a subsidy, then maybe exploring some private options that can give you better rates is a good avenue to research.

 

Not sure where to start? The Google rabbit hole is dangerous. Let a professional handle all the research. Book a FREE 15-minute consultation with me today.

A quick note about COVID-19:
What we needed yesterday is not the same as today. In this pandemic age, we see our health needs changing. Considering this, review all your options wisely. Ask as many questions as you have and make sure these are addressed before you make your final decision.

This assessment isn’t just for working adults who have their insurance policies reviewed by their companies but also for self-employed personnel like content creators, creative artists, real estate agents, and healthcare practitioners, too!

Don’t have a health insurance plan?

If you don’t have a health insurance plan, then open enrollment is the time for you to start going through your options and securing one for yourself.

Here’s what you should do before deciding to get health insurance:

  • Consider your medical needs, what do you need to make sure are covered by insurance every year?
  • Do you have dependents? Assess their health needs as well.
  • Revisit your retirement plan. Often, we focus too much on health, we don’t realize we need to start doing our numbers and ensure we have enough for retirement. If you feel like you need more coverage to take care of yourself during old age, then add this to the list of benefits you need from your health insurance policy.

Need more help evaluating your options for your new or existing health insurance plan?

My name is Dr. Noor. I’m a medical doctor, certified public health professional and licensed health insurance professional. I can do all your research for you and make the best fit recommendation.

Book your free consultation appointment with me today to get started on your health insurance quotes.

Dr. Noor Ali, MD, MPH, CPH

Dr. Noor Ali, MD, MPH, CPH

Health Insurance Advisor

I’m a medical doctor with advanced sales experience. I’ve built a brand around helping power fempreneurs figure out their health insurance in a way that protects their growing wealth and promotes good health.
As a first time mom and business owner with a pure medical science background, I am so proud of my professional accomplishments. I love working with women, because well… I get it!

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Planning for Un-Retirement

Purse Strings Approved Professional

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Planning for “Un-Retirement”

HSA Heath Savings Account

Yvonne came to me with one question: “Can I afford to leave this all-consuming stressful job, and instead work at the non-profit I’m passionate about? It won’t pay nearly as much, but I’ll be so much happier!” I’m going to walk you through the process we followed to help her answer that question.

If you’re considering a departure from “corporate,” leaving the comfort of a regular paycheck and benefits, you know it’s a multi-faceted decision. Money is not the only consideration. Nor should it be the most important one!  I encourage all women to think deeply about

  • what brings you joy and gives you energy,
  • how your relationships are affected by your work,
  • your physical and mental health,
  • and how you can move forward feeling engaged and making a difference.

And we must acknowledge the reality of the world we live in. Unless you live off the land, grow your own food, and can fix your own plumbing, you need to think about money!

 

Here’s my suggested framework to look at your own numbers and decide if you have enough to head out the door.

Step One: What does your current life cost?

There’s no way to get around the need to assess your spending. Lots of women feel really uncomfortable with this part. There’s some unspoken internal (or presumed external) judgment going on – of how many dollars you have and/or where they’re going. Remember – the numbers on the page aren’t judging you! Numbers are just numbers. Whatever shame and guilt you might be feeling is coming 100% from your own head. Please be gentle with yourself! Try to set that judgment aside and instead adopt an approach of scientific curiosity. What can you learn from looking at these interesting numbers?

You need to figure out your Burn Rate. That’s the amount of money you’re spending each month (don’t forget the things that occur less than monthly, like vacations, holidays and gifts, insurance and taxes). Also consider if you’ll need to add in health insurance costs, if that’s something you now get a work but will not in the future!

 

Step Two: What if you pare it down to the bare minimum?

What’s your “ramen noodle budget?” (BTW I totally stole that term from a client – thanks K.A.!)  This is not about how you want to live, it’s just an exercise to understand if you had to cut down to survival mode, what would that number be? If things go sour, what could you squeak by on?

 

Step Three: What financial resources do you have?

Add up your assets. This is an important exercise no matter what’s going on in your life! Look at how many dollars you have AND what types of dollars they are. The type of account they’re sitting in affects their liquidity, accessibility, taxation and risk. What are your income sources? Do you have any that would continue if you leave your job? These could be things like rental income, side businesses, annuities – or for the future, pension plans and Social Security.

 

Step Four: What might your new chapter cost?

Is this change going to require some monetary investment to get started? Training or certification, supplies or equipment, software or subscriptions? Do you need to build a website, rent an office, hire some help? If you’re considering a completely new field and don’t know the answers, find people to ask! Tap your network, and your networks’ network. Remember those Informational Interviews we did back in college days? It’s amazing how many kind-spirited people are willing to help. They can point you toward helpful resources, or suggest mistakes to avoid.

If you will have start-up costs, where is this money going to come from? Do you have savings you can tap? (Ideally not inside your retirement accounts, as they should be earmarked for your living expenses down the road (and remember the 10% penalty that applies to most withdrawals before age 59 1/2). Would you take out a loan? If so, be sure to factor in the loan payments to your future expenses.

 

Step Five: Calculate your Runway

Math time!  (You can do this – everyone’s phone has a calculator these days. :))

  • Start with how much of your assets you are willing to spend to get going.
  • Subtract any start-up costs (step 4)
  • Divide the result by your monthly Burn Rate (step 1)

The result is the number of months you could float yourself if no revenue comes in from the new initiative.

 

How does that number feel to you?

If you don’t like the result, are you willing to make some cuts to your ongoing spending? Maybe to move somewhere closer to your ramen noodle budget? How important is this reinvention to you? Are you willing to make some sacrifices? Try to be realistic!

If your answer is zero months, or a very small runway of time, maybe you can set a goal of building up to a comfortable number before you jump. Maybe you start working on the new idea part-time while you’re still earning an income. Or you think about working at Starbucks for the health insurance while you’re ramping up.

 

Step Six: How much do you think you’ll make?

And how long will it take? Remember it’s always safest to use a conservative number in your projections. We like positive surprises much better than the opposite!

I want to acknowledge that leaving corporate doesn’t always happen on our schedule! Forced reinvention has been a reality, especially for women of a certain age, for a very long time. And COVID has only made it more indisputable. We can’t always lay down these nice, neat plans before we’re off the cliff. So it behooves all of us to have a reinvention plan in our back pockets!

 
Also consider: What could go wrong?

Some say jumping without a net brings a higher likelihood of success. As a financial planner, I like to err on the other side. Think about the potential pitfalls now, since we humans make better decisions when we’re not in a state of high and stress. What will you do if getting off the ground takes longer than expected; if you reach the end of your runway and income is not covering your living expenses?

  • Would you turn to other ways to bring in some revenue? Think now about what those might be.
  • Would you be willing to sell some of your investments? Decide today in which order and how it would work.
  • Would you ask a friend or family member for a loan? Have some conversations and plant the seed sooner rather than later.
  • Would you tap the equity in your home? Understand the pros and cons of that move and talk to a lender now.

Maybe you have a line you would not cross. You could give yourself a set amount of time, and if it’s not working you move to Plan B. You decide ahead of time on a certain number of dollars of your assets you’ll use, then you’d move to Plan C.

 

Yvonne’s Happy Ending

Yvonne and I talked through these steps and crunched her numbers. She did quite a bit of self-reflection and talked to trusted people in her life. She decided to save as much as she could for 6 more months, then make the leap. This also gave her time to have an orderly transition in the job she was leaving, to not burn bridges and to keep her network strong. Today she feels lighter and more fulfilled than when we started working together!

Like Yvonne, if you follow this framework, do some math and think through your options ahead, I know you’ll feel more confident moving forward.

Stephanie McCullough

Stephanie McCullough

Founder & Financial Planner

Our focus is working with women 45+ who are facing a financial future on their own and are looking for a true partner in money decision-making. I help professional women reduce financial stress by aligning their money story with their deepest-held values. I am a non-judgmental financial advisor. My team and I work hard to create a safe space to have the intimate conversations necessary. Since money touches all the most important parts of our lives, we have to talk about it all before we can decide what you should do with your dollars.

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless

Save money no second income

Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert – What are ways to save money now that we don’t have a second income?

Jason Conger Financial Advisor

Answered By

Sue McQueen

Financial Professional

smcqueen@primerica.com

Question

What are ways to save money now that we don’t have a second income?

Answer

First thing is to adjust your priorities. Remember this key point: It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. Along with setting priorities comes one tough rule of life: You can’t have everything. You have to make conscious decisions about every purchase.

An important concept to understand is want vs. need:

• A need is something you have to have, something you can’t do without. You “need” food. You “need” shelter.
• A want is something you would like to have. You “want” ice cream. You “want” a bigger house.
You may have to make sacrifices for a period of time and go without some of your “wants.” It’s not that tough, but it is very, very important to your financial health.

Look for ways to reduce spending or eliminate expenses, freeing up more money to save. Some common areas to look at are auto and home insurance, cable and internet, club memberships, subscriptions, and eating out.

 

We will provide you useful and timely information you can use to be #financiallyfearless