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Getting affordable or free health insurance has never been more accessible in Utah

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Open Enrollment season has arrived for the Health Insurance Marketplace. Between November 1 and January 15, eligible people can enroll in a health insurance program of their choice. Plans vary in coverage levels, covered providers and cost, which can make deciding which plan to enroll in difficult and confusing.

Take Care Utah offers enrollment assistance

Luckily, Utahans have access to Take Care Utah, a Utah Health Police Project program that offers enrollment assistance to Utah enrollees. The program “is a network of nonprofit organizations focused on helping people with health insurance,” according to the Take Care website. “It consists of about 50 enrollment specialists all across Utah. All services are provided free of charge.”

So if you and your family need healthcare coverage and don’t know where to start, Take Care Utah can help.

What you’ll need

When you’re ready to enroll, you’ll need to assemble the proper documentation. This will include:

  • Names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for each member of the family
  • Information about health insurance coverage offered through your employer (if any)
  • Estimated annual household income
  • Last three months of pay stubs for all income earners in your household (if applying for Medicaid or CHIP)

You’ll also need to be ready to choose from different healthcare options for your family. For instance, different plans will have different in-network or preferred providers. Knowing the name of any doctors you’d like to continue seeing will help you ensure your plan will cover care offered from the right places.

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You should also attempt to estimate the amount of medical expenses you expect in the coming year—you can use this last year as a guide. As a general rule, paying a higher monthly premium will give you a lower out-of-pocket maximum and vice versa.

“All plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace cover essential health benefits such as emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, laboratory services, and much more,” reports Take Care Utah. “It’s likely your plan offers additional coverage beyond the minimum requirements—you will see exactly what each plan offers when your compare them side-by-side in the Marketplace.”

Affording healthcare

Some people may worry whether they’ll be able to afford care or if they’ll even be eligible because of ongoing health conditions.

Fortunately, pre-existing conditions and gender have no influence on whether you can receive coverage or not. Take Care Utah says the only things that can affect your premium are your age, where you live, and if you’re a smoker.

Additionally, if you aren’t sure you can afford premiums or any sort of coverage, talk with one of the experts at Take Care Utah to see if you qualify for a reduced or free plan. You can see plans and prices and get an estimate on your possible discount by visiting healthcare.gov.

You can also find out more information about insurance coverage from programs like Medicaid, the Primary Care Network, and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. These options provide coverage to low-income families, families with children, and people with certain disabilities. Unlike coverage offered by the Health Insurance Marketplace, these programs have no limit to when you can apply for them during the year.

Medicare open enrollment overlaps with the Healthcare Market’s open enrollment, running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. This is insurance offered to eligible Utahans over age 65. More information can be found at medicare.gov.

Interested in getting help choosing a health insurance plan this year? Take Care Utah’s assistors offer free, in-person, nonprofit help. To find your nearest enrollment assister, call 2-1-1 or search by ZIP code on the takecareutah.org website.