April—with spring breaks and daffodils— is a happy month for many. But it is a time of angst for other taxpayers. Likewise, November can be an exciting prelude to the holidays. For others, though, healthcare open season can be as scary as Halloween. But there are companies and resources to help individuals benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act was passed with the intent of insuring all eligible Americans. Despite the controversy surrounding the Act, over 200,000 previously-uninsured Arizonans received coverage in 2014; Arizona enjoyed one of the largest drops in uninsured rates in the US.
The open season for 2016 is November 1 to January 31. Despite the positive outcomes in 2015, many Arizonans are nervous or confused about next steps. Some people are unhappy about their policy cost’s increase or lost jobs and accompanying insurance or had plans with carriers that are no longer operating, (e.g., 59,000 Arizonans who were enrolled with Meritus). Still others had plans with major carriers, like Aetna, who will no longer offer PPO plans.
Tom Grote, who has been with Aetna for 28 years, is the new President for Arizona and New Mexico markets. “We are making many improvements, all with the goals of making the process easier for the consumer to understand and use, and rewarding people for taking care of their health,” he said.
Aetna has created an entire consumer department to help people understand and select the appropriate plans. People, who spent hours wrestling with original online systems, will be happy to hear Aetna promise 15-minute enrollments. The employees in the new Phoenix call center will be evaluated on the helpfulness of their responses rather than number of calls handled. There is a range of plan costs available. The most unique addition is a new gold level plan to reduce costs for diabetics.
“Choosing health benefits may be one of the most important decisions you make every year,” says Aetna’s Frank Benedetto, Market Head of Sales. He developed a list of Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Health Plan. His advice includes “knowing what you are paying for” and “asking questions.”
Selecting a new healhplan during open season should not be scary. Healthcare providers, insurance companies, government agencies and non-profits are now compelled to find ways to help their customers, because healthy, satisfied customers are critical to the long-term viability of Arizona’s economy.