Reach Your Stress Management Goals by Reevaluating Your Health Insurance Plan
Wellness is at the top of everyone's mind at the start of a new year, and 2019 is no different. But people aren't just thinking about getting in shape or cutting out sweets anymore. They're taking a holistic view of wellness, including how to reduce anxiety and reach their stress management goals.
Being on the right health insurance plan can be a big step toward those goals. The open enrollment period for plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act has ended for 2019, but you may still be able to enroll if you have a qualifying life event. These include moving to a new area, having or adopting a baby, getting married or divorced, and select other circumstances.
If you don't qualify, you may still be able to purchase short-term insurance, and you can begin fine-tuning your selection criteria for the next open enrollment period (which will occur in late 2019).
What Constitutes the Right Health Insurance Plan?
That depends on your personal circumstances, health history, and your priorities. Ideally, you'll enroll in a plan that suits your budget while also covering the expenses you expect to incur.
If you rarely get sick, you might want an inexpensive plan that offers coverage in case of emergencies but little else. However, if you're coping with ongoing medical issues, you might be willing to pay higher premiums so that you won't pay as much in copays when you're visiting specialists or undergoing costly tests.
Choosing an insurance plan that suits your lifestyle and budget can reduce stress in two important ways. The first is that you'll know you're covered for the types of appointments and procedures you're likely to need, and you'll be able to plan for the associated costs such as copays and deductibles. The second benefit is that you'll be paying a monthly premium you can afford. Health insurance is important, but struggling to meet your monthly premiums can add significant stress that will cause negative health effects over time.
What to Consider Before Switching Health Insurance Plans
- Premium Costs in Your Area: Health insurance costs vary widely across the country. For instance, the average monthly premium in Utah is $180; however, in Alaska, the average comes in at about $426. Before changing your plan, research the average costs in your area, as well as what people are paying at the higher and lower ends of the spectrum. This will help you gauge what type of plan you'll be able to afford.
- Your Medical Background and Overall Wellness Priorities: Some plans offer limited benefits outside of catastrophic coverage, but the monthly premiums are quite low. On the other hand, costlier plans require higher premiums but offer more assistance on specialist visits and prescriptions. Take stock of your current medical situation. Are you anticipating any major expenses in the coming year? Are you managing a chronic condition? Do you plan to start a family? Are mental health services a priority for you? What types of services do you want to be covered? Some plans cover costs for acupuncture and other types of therapy, so you may be willing to pay more for plans that include these services.
- Whether Your Preferred Doctor Accepts Your Chosen Plan: A strong relationship with your doctor can significantly impact your well-being. It's important to trust your provider. If you have a doctor you like, find out whether their practice accepts the new plan you want to buy. If they don't, you'll have to weigh your priorities, as some plans will not cover visits with out-of-network providers. You may want to find a comparable plan that enables you to continue on with your preferred doctor.
Enrolling in a health insurance plan that suits your lifestyle and budget can create a baseline sense of well-being that supports your stress management goals for 2019 and beyond.