Monday Medical: Navigating the health insurance maze

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Whether you started to enroll for health insurance online, but found the process too complicated or are just trying to understand how your current health benefits work, Yampa Valley Medical Center can help.

Monday Medical

Monday Medical columns publish weekly in the Steamboat Today's Yampa Valley Health section. Read more columns here.

Open enrollment sessions

Open enrollment sessions will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Jan. 26 at Yampa Valley Medical Center and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 14 and Jan. 14 at YampaCare Family Medicine in Craig. Visit yvmc.org/calendar for all dates and times.

From now through January, YVMC is holding Open Enrollment Tuesdays to help answer any health insurance question community members may have.

This is third year YVMC has offered the popular sessions, which have drawn people from across Northwest Colorado. This year, sessions will also be offered in Craig.

Certified application counselors, health coverage guides and local area insurance brokers will be available to help guide people through the health insurance maze — whether that’s filling out application forms, reviewing different plans or explaining deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.

“It’s open to anyone with any kind of health insurance question,” said Anna Scheffers, patient health benefit coordinator at YVMC. “They don’t have to buy anything. It’s strictly an opportunity to come in and get answers. We can guide them through the process of getting insurance.”

Someone with a grandfathered-in plan that has skyrocketing premiums can look for a cheaper option. Young adults who are running out of time to stay on their parents’ plan can find a new plan that fits their needs. And people who tried to apply online for insurance through Connect for Health Colorado or Medicaid and found the process confusing can get help on finishing their applications.

The sessions are also a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of your current insurance plan. Counselors and brokers can explain what out-of-pocket costs and deductibles mean and how someone is actually covered.

“We’re finding people feel great that they have insurance but don’t realize if you go to the ER and you have a $6,000 deductible, you might be paying for that whole trip to the ER,” Scheffers said. “We’re trying to really push insurance literacy and help explain plans.”

The sessions, which began in November, have been popular: So far this year, 124 people have been served, compared to 52 at this time last year. As long as participants are at a session by 7 p.m., they will be able to receive assistance.

This year, Scheffers has seen more people with private plans asking whether there are cheaper alternatives.

One aim of the program is to make it easy for people to get the health insurance they need.

“Going into emergency surgery and knowing it isn’t going to financially harm their family is a huge peace of mind,” Scheffers said. “If we can get them insured before they walk in the door, that stress isn’t there while they’re sitting in the ER waiting to be admitted.”

But the goal extends beyond just helping people get insurance: YVMC wants to make sure people get the care they need and that it’s affordable. That means helping people set up payment plans, understand what insurance plans cover, secure financial assistance and ensure their children have the right coverage, as well.

Take advantage of Open Enrollment Tuesdays, and make sure your health insurance is working for you. It benefits not only your health, but also your wallet and your peace of mind.

Open enrollment sessions will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays through Jan. 26, at Yampa Valley Medical Center, and also from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 and Jan. 14 at YampaCare Family Medicine in Craig. Visit yvmc.org/calendar for all dates and times.

Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.

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