The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for November 29th, 2013

Just signed up for health insurance: Some advice for those still trying

I finally completed my application for health insurance through the federal exchange today, with the assistance of an independent insurance broker. I’d visited with a navigator earlier in the month who did a good job of explaining how the tax credits and subsidies worked, but I decided to do the actual work of filling out the application myself. For weeks I’d been getting stuck at the final verification stage that allows you to proceed to choosing a plan. So I called up a professional insurance broker here in Austin, who was very helpful.

First, if you created your account on a few weeks ago and you’re still having problems, it’s a good idea to start over with a completely new account using a different email address. This eliminated the problem I was having before; the new account allowed me to sail right through the application process.

Talking to a private insurance broker is also useful if you have specific questions about different plans or companies. You don’t pay their fee — the insurance companies do. For maximum choice in providers, I went with a PPO plan (as opposed to an HMO, which can have lower premiums, but puts serious limitations on which doctors you can see). Look on Yelp to find highly-recommended brokers in your area.

My husband and I chose a Silver plan with much better coverage than our current individual plans, and with the ACA credits, we’ll be paying approximately $150/month less in premiums.

Assuming all goes as expected, I’m pretty excited about having reasonably-priced, non-crappy health insurance. It was such a relief not to have to fill out endless forms about my medical history and pre-existing conditions. As far as I can tell, there is no “crisis” — the real crisis would be if opponents of health insurance reform managed to undo all the hard work that got us this far.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.