Health insurance open enrollment: What to consider when picking a health insurance plan

Open enrollment for health insurance starts on October 15th. But for many, the process of figuring out which plan to pick is daunting.

As a professional makeup artist, Lisa Buono works at ABC7, on movie sets and talk shows. As a freelancer, she has to buy her own health insurance. And every year, it's a struggle to pick a plan she can afford and will cover her needs.

"You pick your deductible and you pay. That's fine, but with a $6,000 deductible at $450 a month, I really don't get a lot," Buono said.

But this year, Buono and other consumers like her may be getting some good news.

Lisa Zamosky, with eHealth insurance, an online insurance marketplace, explains.

"There will be more financial assistance for people who buy their coverage under the Affordable Care Act," Zamosky said.

She says it will allow many more people to get insurance.

"That's kind of an exciting change for people who have struggled to afford coverage," she said.

Now in 2020, there's going to be help for families who've never qualified for tax subsidies before. An individual who is making between $50,000 to $75,000 and a family of four making $103,000 to $155,000 will now be eligible for financial incentives.

Zamosky calls it a lifeline.

Also new this year for Covered California, low income undocumented young adults, between 19 and 25 years old, will be able to sign up for Medi-Cal.

But whether it's through Covered California, a private insurance plan or an HMO, finding the right plan for you will depend on many factors, including how much money you make, where you live and how healthy you are.

You have to look at how many people are in your family, what kind of medications you take, and also you should take into consideration your age and other medical concerns. For couples looking to start a family, that's another factor.

Other things to consider: your age any chronic medical conditions you're being treated for, like asthma or arthritis.

For people like Buono, Zamosky has this advice: shop for plans and then take advantage of free expert advice from insurance agents and web based tools, like an online calculator.

Buono is glad that she may see some relief this year, and that picking a good health insurance plan won't be so hard.

"For people who are working so hard, and working more, we should get benefits, not penalties.", she said.

Open enrollment goes until the end of January, but if you're not signed up by Dec. 15, you won't get coverage starting Jan. 1.
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