Open enrollment: What’s different this year

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —  It pays to review your options even if you’re happy with your current coverage. Plans can change. Here are some factors to weigh, depending on where you get your coverage:

Employer coverage

The average deductible rose from $303 to $1,505 between 2006 and 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This could hurt your wallet if your raises aren’t keeping pace. It is important to check your finances before signing up for a plan.

Look at what you spent on medical insurance coverage previously and how much you paid out of pocket, then compare that with the frequency of your doctor visits, if you typically don’t go the doctor too often consider a higher deductible plan.

Your monthly insurance premiums will cost less, but your co-pays and hospital visits could be more. If you have a lot of doctor visits or pre-existing conditions, a lower deductible plan may be better for you.

Also, know your out-of-pocket maximum- Look at co-pays for visits or co-insurance to see how much extra you’ll spend to see your doctor.

Make sure your doctors are considered in-network. Typically seeing someone off your plan or out of network will cost more. If you have the option to contribute to a health savings account or HSA money put into the account is tax deductible. In some cases employers can also contribute to your fund and check your plan.

Affordable Care Act

Open enrollment for Tennessee in 2018 runs from November 1 to December 15, six weeks shorter than in prior years. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has approved insurance rate requested by three carriers on the 201 individual health care marketplace ahead of open enrollment.

lueCross BlueShield of Tennessee sought an average 21.4 percent increase, with a range of 4.6 percent to 44.5 percent. Cigna sought an average 42.1 percent increase, with a range of 12.2 percent to 182.2 percent. Oscar Health was not previously on the individual marketplace in Tennessee.

BlueCross BlueShield will be the only carrier available on the marketplace in the Greater Knoxville area. Average rates on the Bronze Plan will be $417.23 for a 35-year-old and $761.39 for a 55-year-old. Average rates on one of two available Silver Plans will be $691.29 for a 35-year-old and $1,261.59 for a 55-year-old. Average rates on the Gold Plan will be $895.65 for a 35-year-old and $1,634.46 for a 55-year-old.

Previous story: Tennessee approves ACA premium requests for 2018 marketplace

Medicare

Medicare open enrollment runs each year from October 15 to December 7. In most cases, this may be the one chance you have to make a change to your health and prescription drug coverage for 2018.

Next year, new Medicare cards will no longer display Social Security numbers, a move designed to protect against fraud and identity theft. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin mailing the cards to beneficiaries in April. Watch your mail carefully starting next spring, so that you don’t throw out your new Medicare card by mistake.

The cards will automatically be mailed to all 58 million current beneficiaries. You don’t need to do anything special to receive one. The new cards will feature a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) made up of 11 letters and numbers.