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Undersecretary Barbara AnthonyPosted by:
Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

For many families, now is the perfect time to get up to speed on health insurance. Many companies hold their open-enrollment periods at the end of the year. It’s a chance to assess your health coverage, and make sure you’re maximizing benefits while keeping costs as low as you can.

Everyone in Massachusetts needs health coverage, as mandated by our landmark health-care law. However, health insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Families need to understand their coverage and their plans, and decide what is best for them.

Recently, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners did a nationwide survey of consumers, and found only six out of 10 said they understand their right to appeal a denied claim. Fewer than one in three said they understand the cost factors that determine premiums. It is a complicated thing to understand, but there are a few things you can do to make sure your health insurance is right for you.

• Check with your human resources department to find out when open enrollment takes place. Make sure you use that window to make any changes – you won’t get another chance for a year.
• It might be a good idea to open a flexible spending account, if available. This allows you to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses through pre-tax dollars set aside in your paycheck. It not only creates a rainy day account for you, but also saves you money by not paying taxes on the money.
• Do your homework on available plans. Is your doctor available in a particular network? Does one plan offer better benefits than another? Check the co-pays and other costs to make sure the terms best match your needs.
• Visit the Massachusetts Division of Insurance Website. It has a wealth of information for you to catch up on, including a series of consumer guides that can help you navigate your way through the process.

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