By: Marlene C. Baca, CEO of New Mexico Health Connections

As we near the end of the year, we naturally begin planning for 2019. When you make resolutions for better financial and physical health at the start of the new year, health insurance may not be at the top of your list. However, adequate health coverage will have a dramatic impact on both your financial and your overall health and well-being.

But the time for you to take action is not January 1 – the time is now. Open Enrollment for individual health coverage began on November 15 and ends at midnight on December 15, 2018 for coverage that begins January 1, 2019.

If you think you cannot afford health insurance, consider what might happen if you don’t have it. Insurance protects your financial and physical health. It offers you peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you and your family will be covered. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but health problems can come up very unexpectedly. Whether it’s a broken bone, appendicitis, a sports injury, a car accident, or a serious health diagnosis, you and your family could be stuck with staggering medical costs if you do not have adequate coverage.

For example, an emergency room visit to set a broken leg can cost more than $10,000. Health insurance protects you from these unexpected, high medical costs. It also gives you access to many no-cost preventive care services for essential health benefits that help you stay healthy throughout the year.

However, it isn’t enough to purchase a health plan; you should make sure you select the right plan for your unique needs.

When shopping for a plan, consider your annual healthcare costs. Think of how often you see any of your doctors, from primary care to specialists. Do you, or does anyone in your family, have any chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma that require you to see the doctor frequently? What prescription medications do you and your family members take on an ongoing basis? With a framework of these costs in mind, the plan with the lowest premium may not be the most cost-effective plan for you.

A health plan’s network of doctors is also important. You will save money by going to in-network providers, so be sure find out if your doctors are in the health plan’s network.

Understand the details of the plan you are considering. Look at the copays, coinsurance, and deductibles the plan offers and what you will be required to pay out-of-pocket. If you have to pay high copays and coinsurance or meet a high deductible before coverage begins, a less-expensive plan may end up costing you more throughout the year.

Open Enrollment is only six weeks long. It’s important to take enough time to consider all your health coverage options for your family’s needs. I urge all New Mexicans to make educated decisions to protect the health of their families, and to be sure to select coverage during the Open Enrollment period. If you are having trouble figuring out your options, the New Mexico Health Connections team can answer your questions and help to select the right coverage options for every member of your family. Call us at (855) 808‐3568, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Live from Silver City

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Editor's Note

Mary Alice tried out a different format for reporting the lengthy County Commission preliminary budget hearing. Instead of traditional narrative sentences, to do it more quickly and efficiently, she put the name of each speaker before a paraphrased version of their comments. Questions were not necessarily asked by the speaker, but they were answered by the one replying. Please let editor@grantcountybeat.com know if you love, hate or are indifferent about the format. It may lead to how some reports are written henceforth in order to get them out in a more timely manner.

Mary Alice is back, but on slow-mo, trying to catch up with all that didn't get done before she had to leave. And doing everything that happened after she got back! Working on it

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