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What’s New for 2021 Open Enrollment?

We’ve had a hard 2020, there is no denying that. There have been both business concerns and health fears. This Open Enrollment season, being informed about health and health insurance are more important than ever.

Here’s what you need to know about health insurance going into the 2021 Open Enrollment.

Effects of COVID-19 on the Health Insurance Industry

One of the main effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people have opted to skip or postpone medical procedures and treatments, sometimes to the detriment of their own health. Elective procedures, in particular, have been put on the backburner for many people who don’t want to go to the hospital and risk coronavirus infection.

As a result, health and dental insurers have started refunding a portion of premiums to group health plans to help offset premiums paid when health plan enrollees were unable to take advantage of health services.

Additionally, providers have jumped headfirst into offering telemedicine in lieu of face-to-face visits. For example, Kaiser, which was a tele-med leader pre-COVID, saw its telemedicine use explode to 85% of its visits, compared to only 15% before COVID-19 started spreading.

2021 Health Insurance Tips

Make Sure to Compare Apples to Apples. Small group rates continued to rise in recent years, and benefits continue to be diluted, so when shopping for plans for your employees, it’s a good idea to compare current year plan benefits with those for 2021.

Kaiser Tips. People report that many popular primary care physicians are not accepting new patients, but you can talk to Kaiser doctor administrators and ask to be on a waiting list when your primary care physician of choice has an opening. Also, if you don’t like your PCP, don’t hesitate to call Kaiser and ask for a new one.

PPO Tips. When you need to have a procedure done, with a PPO you can shop around for the best price. Often a free-standing non-hospital-associated facility might have more availability and be less costly than a larger one.

Calling around to find out how much a procedure costs can be time-consuming and difficult. Tip: Download a medical company app to find out how much a procedure should cost, what providers pay, and more.

Check Out New Non-Kaiser Group Affiliations. There has been a shift in the Bay Area where a number of physician groups have teamed up with health plans under an umbrella organization to provide health insurance products at a more competitive rate. One such example is Canopy Health in the Bay Area which includes University of California San Francisco Health, John Muir Health Physician Network, Dignity Health Medical Network, and more.

Use in Network Providers. Labs, such as Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, will team up with some of these health organizations to offer better rates for lab exams.

Connect with a Broker Who Offers More Than Health Insurance. Often your industry’s local trade association will be able to provide your business health insurance within partial guidance, preferential group rates, and other valuable benefits as part of your relationship. Northern California graphic arts businesses should check out Visual Media Alliance, their non-profit association for 80 years.

Contact shannon@visualmediaalliance.org for more details.

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