Moving to a new home, and especially a new neighborhood, is exciting. There are walls to paint, rooms to decorate and there could even be a new pool to finally enjoy. As you get ready to enjoy the home of your dreams, some of the items on your checklist that coincides with your move should include:
- Notifying your bank about a change of address or closing your accounts
- Contacting your credit card company
- Calling your new utility company or updating your address with your current provider
- Getting a new health insurance plan
Health insurance might be the one surprise factor on this list that you haven’t thought of or considered, but it’s a vitally important to remember to update when you move. Here’s why:
If you move, you usually cannot keep your same health insurance plan. Healthcare plan pricing, coverage and doctor networks vary depending on your ZIP code. Even if you’re just moving across town, but change ZIP codes, you should look to see if you can get a health insurance plan at a lower rate. In certain circumstances, certain plans or benefits in one location might not be offered in another.
Individuals who are offered health insurance benefits through their employer won’t need to re-shop for health insurance, as there are typically just a few plans to choose from, but it is still important to alert your human resources department about your move to ensure your coverage will in fact, work when you need it to. If you are responsible for purchasing your own health insurance, you will most likely need to start the shopping process all over again.
There are a few important things to remember when selecting a healthcare plan that is right for you or your family. Do your homework when you’re tired of unpacking boxes, and figure out, even roughly, the total amount you spent on healthcare expenses in the last 12-month period. Your list should include the monthly cost of health insurance, out of pocket deductible and coinsurance (if applicable), medical exams and procedures, and prescription medicines. This creates a baseline for examining your plan options. Some will only focus on the monthly cost and end up with a health insurance plan that doesn’t help pay for or control their actual medical need.
The best way to start your search for a new health insurance plan is to see all of your options. Websites like HealthCare.com offer a true search engine experience where you will find every healthcare plan on your state exchange or the federal marketplace, plus plans on the private marketplace.
After providing some basic information, you’ll most likely be presented with several plans to compare. To choose the right one, consider these key questions:
- Monthly cost. While this shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, you need to be able to pay your bills to keep your health insurance plan active. Does the plan you are most interested in fit your budget? Are there Obamacare subsidies available? Some plans do offer financial assistance for certain income levels to help ease the cost of healthcare plans. HealthCare.com offers an Obamacare subsidy calculator that will help you determine how much you can save on your healthcare every month.
- Your healthcare consumption. Do you seem to visit the doctor for more than preventive care? Are you or your children known to have sports injuries or accidents? Be honest. Calculate how much you spend on doctor office visits, emergency room and urgent care.
- Deductible. How much can you realistically pay out of pocket if you or someone in your family is in a serious accident? Some prefer to have lower monthly payment if they can afford to pay the first $6,000 out of their own wallets. Others prefer to pay more per month knowing they will have ongoing medical needs or take several prescription drugs. This option might be less expensive in the long run rather than paying a skinny premium with few benefits under a certain dollar threshold.
Moving to a new ZIP code makes you very special to the federal government since moving is considered a qualifying life event that makes you eligible for the special open enrollment period. You must make changes to your existing health insurance plan or purchase a new healthcare plan within 60 days of moving or you will have to wait until the regular enrollment period to enroll.
Not convinced you need health insurance at all? That’s fine, but you will pay for it. Health insurance is now required for all Americans, and if you fail to comply with the law set forth in the Affordable Care Act, you will pay a fee. In 2015 the fee is $325 per adult, $162.50 per child, or 2% of your income, whichever is greater. The fine is applied to your income taxes, so if you typically receive a refund from the Internal Revenue Service, you could be in for a surprise of owing the government instead.
Find out how much you would have to pay in fees using this Obamacare penalty calculator.
Make sure everything is checked off your list before you move, and then take care of your healthcare plan options within 60 of setting foot in your new home.