by on December 16, 2020  in Health /
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Dan WeissmannDecember 16, 2020
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When host Dan Weissmann and his wife set out to pick a health insurance plan for next year, they realized that keeping the plan they have means paying $200 a month more. But would a “cheaper” plan cost them more in the long run? It depends. And the COVID pandemic makes their choice a lot more complicated.

After trying to puzzle it out, Weissmann debriefs with Karen Pollitz, a health insurance expert at KFF, who knows about the angst of medical bills from personal experience.

Health insurance can be painful, but the alternative ― not having health insurance ― is so much worse. If you want to go deeper on health insurance, you might want to check out these episodes from the first season of the podcast:

    * In “Why You (and I) Will Likely Pick the Wrong Health Insurance ( ,” we learn: Smart economists have proved it’s actually super hard — even they aren’t sure they’ll pick correctly.
    * In an episode ( inspired by KHN reporter Jenny Gold, we learn about insurance companies’ price-gouging. And often we end up paying the price.
    * Inthe first-ever episode of this show ( , Weissmann’s family confronts the big puzzle: Can we even get insurance that’ll work for us?
    * In “A ‘Deal’ on Health Insurance Comes With Troubling Strings ( ,” we go on a journey with a kinda-famous “financial therapist” who says she gets rattled when it comes to picking health insurance. And she’s pretty uncomfortable — morally, personally — with some of the choices she’s made. (Also, Weissmann’s family makes another cameo.)

And here are some other helpful big-picture takes:

    * Listener Anna Jo Beck made a really great booklet explaining how health insurance works ( . You can read it online.
    * Weissmann borrowed some core insurance-picking advice — consider what a health plan does for you if you get hit by a bus — from this story by Zachary Tracer at Business Insider ( , spelling out how he picked his insurance.

Want to go a lot deeper? Especially if you’re actually looking at buying health insurance, maybe on the Obamacare exchange?

Weissmann found ( to be super usable this year, way better than the last time he checked.

“I punched in the answers to a few questions, and got to quickly tell it which doctors our family sees (and what meds we take) … and it provided a clear list that showed which plans cover our docs, how much they would cost us, etc.,” he said.

    * Subsidies are available for Affordable Care Act plans. KFF has this explanation of how they work ( . It’s a slog, but thorough. Print it out, grab a snack and settle in. This bit of research explains that a lot of people qualify for a plan with no premium. (KHN, which co-produces “An Arm and a Leg,” is an editorially independent program of KFF.)
    * KFF has a whole database of frequently asked questions about the ACA. ( Hundreds of Q’s and A’s, including 180-plus in Spanish.
    * Also great, also very thorough: The Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms has a whole site full of resources for navigating the ACA. ( (It’s actually for “navigators” — folks who help civilians understand the sign-up process.)

That’s a lot, right? Picking a plan can be overwhelming. But don’t let it get you down.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

To keep in touch with “An Arm and a Leg,” subscribe to the newsletter ( . You can also follow the show on Facebook ( and Twitter ( . And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you ( .

_To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here ( ._

_And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on iTunes ( , Pocket Casts ( , Google Play ( or Spotify ( ._

Subscribe ( to KHN's free Morning Briefing.

For more postings by Kaiser Health News, click HERE





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