Your clients know they can turn to you for help with their financial and retirement planning, but what about health insurance? For many, healthcare decisions are essential to any client's financial plan since it may impact their wealth.
So, helping your clients navigate the ins and outs of open enrollment is another way you can help educate them and build trust moving forward. Here's a quick-hit list of information to have on hand to answer questions about navigating open enrollment.
Start with education
Health insurance is a tricky topic even in the best of times, so things can get confusing if your clients move out of an employer-sponsored plan and into something they need to choose for themselves or enroll in Medicare.
You may want to start by making time for your education. Stay current on the laws in your state and how any changes can impact insurance options or enrollment dates. It can help keep you prepared and spot any potential points of confusion.
Consider frequently asked questions about open enrollment
Multiple clients may have the same questions about open enrollment and what it means for them. Consider getting a detailed fact sheet set up that you can give your clients to cover the basics.
Here are some good questions to address:
What do clients need to know about signing up for health insurance and deadlines?
Consider getting a detailed checklist about your state's Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. While some states operate on the healthcare.gov marketplace, others have their own exchanges with separate sites for enrollment.
On the checklist, include:
- Your states healthcare exchange name and URL (if different from the ACA marketplace)
- Critical deadlines for enrollment. In many states, marketplace enrollment starts on November 1 and runs through December 15. However, some states have slightly different windows.
- What life events may qualify for the special enrollment period.
- Step-by-step instructions on getting registered for the site.
You can find a good one-page tip sheet to use as a starting point on Healthcare.gov.
What are the different types of plans?
Next, you'll want to give your clients a general, high-level overview of the different types of plan options available to them. The marketplace has four plan options: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Each has different benefits, and the costs may depend on your client's income. So, you'll want to discuss how that may impact their premiums.
How do they choose the best option?
It takes time to consider the best plan options, and that can be frustrating, so discussing this with your clients from a place of empathy can help. There are a few key factors you'll want them to think about as they choose a plan:
- The plan design.
- The premium costs.
- Other healthcare costs, including deductibles and co-pays.
- Potential ways to help manage their spending, such as an HSA.
- The plan's provider network.
When your clients have an idea of needs or must-haves, it becomes easier to start removing plans from the mix and settling on a few that feel like good options.
What about Medicare and Social Security?
For older clients, you'll want to discuss both Medicare and Social Security enrollment periods and the best times to enroll for each. While there's more flexibility with Social Security, your clients may face penalties if they miss Medicare open enrollment.
Also, review Medicare health care options. Your clients will want to learn the differences between Original Medicare (Parts A and B), Medicare Advantage Plans, and supplemental coverage. Here again, going over the options and discussing the pros and cons of each and how they may fit into their lifestyle can help them decide.
What if they have coverage already?
Your clients may already have health coverage through an employer, their spouse or from time in the military. If that's the case, review their current coverage with them, and compare it to their available options on the marketplace. You also may need to discuss what happens if their existing coverage ends and how they can continue to get health insurance.
When discussing open enrollment with your clients, leave time for questions. All of this information may leave your client's head spinning, but laying what they need to know out clearly and walking through it with them step-by-step can help.