Many New Yorkers will be shopping for new health insurance plans this month, when open enrollment begins. If you are among them, experts advise it is important to be aware of exactly what you are getting.
New Yorkers pay some of the highest health care premiums in the U.S., second only to Alaska.
According to a study by the Empire Center, insurance costs here average more than $8,500 a year, which is more than $1,000 higher than the national average. No matter the cost, every health plan has its limitations.
Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, noted it is up to you to ask about what the plans cover, including any mental-health options.
“In addition to in-person mental health care, you might have access to a very large virtual network of licensed mental health professionals, like therapists and psychiatrists,” Randall pointed out. “Some insurers also offer digital tools for mental health, and advocacy services to help you navigate those needs.”
She stressed adding dental, vision or hearing coverage is another consideration, as well as double-checking whether the plan covers prescriptions. In short, she recommended people do their homework, as enrollment dates are fast approaching.
There are some elements of a plan Randall acknowledged people do not typically consider, but should. For example, how would the plan handle a significant health event, or a chronic health condition? And she added the pandemic has also influenced the services many insurers provide.
“Plans that include virtual care services for both medical conditions as well as behavioral health conditions have become very popular,” Randall observed. “We’ve seen the utilization of those increase. You’re also looking for a plan that has not only virtual health options, but a connection to in-person care as well.”
Above all, Randall emphasized having health coverage is the most important thing, including the kinds of care you and your family need.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.