by on December 16, 2020
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** ‘AN ARM AND A LEG’: SHOPPING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE? HERE’S HOW ONE FAMILY TRIED TO PICK A PLAN
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Dan WeissmannDecember 16, 2020
_Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. (https://armandalegshow.com/) _

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 (https://armandalegshow.com/episode/why-you-and-i-will-likely-pick-the-wrong-health-insurance-plan/) ,” we learn: Smart economists have proved it’s actually super hard — even they aren’t sure they’ll pick correctly.
    * In an episode (https://armandalegshow.com/episode/why-health-insurance-actually-sucks/) 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 (https://armandalegshow.com/episode/this-is-water-and-it-sucks-lets-talk/) , 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 (https://armandalegshow.com/episode/is-it-ever-appropriate-to-fudge-a-little/) ,” 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 (https://issuu.com/annajobeck/docs/bbbs8_issuu) . 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 (https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-pick-choose-health-insurance-plan-2018-10) , 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 healthcare.gov (https://www.healthcare.gov/) 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 (https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/explaining-health-care-reform-questions-about-health-insurance-subsidies/) . 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. (https://www.kff.org/faqs/faqs-health-insurance-marketplace-and-the-aca/?view=1) 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. (https://navigatorguide.georgetown.edu/) (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 (https://armandalegshow.com/newsletter/) . You can also follow the show on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/armandalegshow/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/armandalegshow) . And if you’ve got stories to tell about the health care system, the producers would love to hear from you (https://armandalegshow.com/contact-us/) .

_To hear all Kaiser Health News podcasts, click here (https://khn.org/news/tag/podcast/) ._

_And subscribe to “An Arm and a Leg” on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/an-arm-and-a-leg/id1438778444) , Pocket Casts (https://play.pocketcasts.com/web/discover/podcast/6e9e33e0-b911-0136-7b93-27f978dac4db) , Google Play (https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hcm1hbmRhbGVnc2hvdy5jb20vZmVlZC9wb2RjYXN0Lw%3D%3D) or Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/3wBgLSbYPKT3gnd9KGjz5t?si=jEMzB2soS_ayOsYbK0cmnQ) ._

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Website:  https://khn.org/

  

    

 

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