Another possible reason for shopping outside the marketplace is to find a plan that has your preferred doctors and hospitals in its network. Many plans offered in the Obamacare marketplaces provide a very limited number of health care providers.
To shop for these policies, contact insurance companies, brokers or agents and ask them if they offer policies that are not available through the government marketplaces.
To find a local broker or agent that sells insurance plans, check the National Association of Health Underwriters website (nahu.org) which has an online directory. But keep in mind that agents won’t necessarily show you all available policies, just the ones from insurers they work with.
You also can look for these plans at insurance shopping sites like eHealthInsurance.com or GoHealth.com, which lists plans and providers that may not be listed on Healthcare.gov.
If you only need health insurance coverage for a short period of time before becoming Medicare eligible, another option you may want to consider is COBRA. COBRA coverage allows you to remain on your former employer’s group health plan for up to 18 months, but not every employer plan is COBRA eligible. Contact your employer benefits administrator to find out if yours is.
In most cases COBRA is expensive, requiring you to pay the full monthly premium yourself. But, if you’ve already met or nearly met your employer plan’s deductible and/or out-of-pocket maximum for the year, and don’t want to start over with a new plan; or if you find your employer’s health plan to be better or more affordable that the government or off-marketplace options, it makes sense to keep your current coverage under COBRA.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
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