Open enrollment for next year’s health coverage starts November 1 and ends January 15. If you're a caregiver, this is the time to evaluate your care recipient's needs.
If their health needs have either lessened or intensified, you need to determine if their current health plan is still the best fit for them. Even if there hasn't been much that's changed in their life, there may be upcoming changes to their health plan that you should be aware of.
How open enrollment benefits caregivers and patients
According to AARP (PDF), medical costs account for 17% of caregiver spending. This includes direct payments to health care providers, hospitals, and therapists, as well as medical equipment and home care.
Caregiving for the chronically ill can be expensive. The American Action Forum reports that individuals with a chronic health condition pay an average of $6,032 more a year than people who don't. This can be the result of more emergency room visits and prescription drug costs.
Having the right medical coverage ensures that the medical costs for the person you are caring for will be covered. Now is the time to consider what needs your care recipient will have next year.
- Will they need to meet with specialists?
- What medications are they currently on and will likely continue taking?
- Could they benefit from behavioral health care or a support group?
These are all questions to keep in mind when determining the best health care plan for your care recipient.
Open enrollment is also your chance to re-evaluate the relationships you have with health care professionals, including primary care providers and specialists.
If the person you are caring for will need to meet with specialists next year, having a health insurance plan where they are in-network will save your care recipient thousands of dollars.
If you are unsatisfied with a doctor your care recipient is currently seeing, now is the time to consider someone new. To keep medical costs down, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) works closely with many hospitals and physicians to help you access quality, affordable care when you need it. Use our Find Care tool to check if the doctors you are interested in are in-network.
Make open enrollment work for you
The main way to make open enrollment work in your favor as a caregiver is to consider your care recipient's needs and pick the health care plan that fits them.
If you are already working with providers you like – whether it's your care recipient's primary care provider or specialists – check to make sure they are covered by the insurance plan you are considering.
If you have any questions about what's covered, including medications and support groups, ask them. If something isn't covered, now is your opportunity to compare insurance plans to see if there is another one that covers more of your care recipient's needs. Be sure to take into account needs such as dental and vision care, too.
Open enrollment is an exciting time because it gives you as a caregiver the power to help choose the plan that best fits the needs of the person you are caring for. If something hasn't been working, now is your opportunity to make the switch. By considering your care recipient's current and future needs, and using the tools that are available to you, you could save the person you are caring for thousands while improving their health outcomes.
We are here to help. If you have questions during the process, you can use our online and in-person options to help.
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