November has become more than the month devoted to families and feasting: It’s now the start of the season when Americans try like heck to avoid becoming health insurance turkeys. Open enrollment periods are under way — for those who get their health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and for millions covered by Medicare, as well as for the myriad U.S. workers insured under company health policies.
This is a daunting time when Americans are asked to decide on the kinds and levels of health care and coverages they want, and an array of options gets rolled out. Captive consumers are supposed to comprehend them all on the fly. As the New York Times points out, insurance, especially health plans, almost inevitably confuse, and most of us make a lot of bad choices.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The federal government web site, healthcare.gov, offers lots of information for those seeking Obamacare coverages; various organizations have put up online briefings on what you need to know about health insurance. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has even created online cartoons, breaking health insurance information down to its basics.
Because coverages vary and needs are highly individualized, it’s tough to advise exactly what consumers should to about their 2016 health insurance: Take the time, though, to shop carefully. For families, a lot of money’s at stake. Be sure you’re not paying for too much or too little prospective care and that the care-givers you want and the care you hope for is covered. Equally important, insurance coverage plays a critical role in maintaining health — whether providing preventive care or protecting individuals and families from big financial shocks if they must deal with catastrophic circumstance. So, struggle through, get the needed tasks done early — and reward yourself with a little extra pie in a less stressful holiday ahead.