The deadline to sign up for health insurance for the New Year through healthcare.govis Monday, Dec. 15th.
A warning: Research shows consumers often choose a plan that’s not the best deal. We’ve got some tips for shopping health care.
Choosing the right health plan isn’t easy. Which is why Jack Hooper started Take Command Health. The Dallas startup is meant to help consumers sift through their options during the open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, and beyond.
Here’s some highlights from the radio interview with Hooper:
It can be overwhelming to go online and choose a plan, what does your company do to try and help people choose plans?
“There’s a lot of fine print out there, a lot of small words that can be difficult to dig through,” Hooper says.
“What we’ve done is captured that all online in a big database. Our website walks you through a step-by-step guide (…) and in the background there’s a lot of numbers a lot of wheels turning but we’re helping you do all the analysis, reading the fine print that you need to be a empowered consumer.”
Why did you start Take Command Health?
“Personal need,” Hooper says. “My wife and I were blessed, but surprised, with a twin pregnancy when we started graduate school. We had moved across the country, quit our jobs, had a nice one-bedroom efficiency.”
The exciting thing, he says, was the twins coming.
The big mystery was how much is it going to cost.
“I didn’t know if I needed to get an extra $5,000, $10,000, or $100,000,” Hooper says. “And what was crazy was talking to doctors, insurance brokers, no one could help even give me a realistic ballpark about how much additional money we were going to need.”
When Hooper realized how hard it was to be a good health care consumer, he decided to create a resource – Take Command Health.
Why do people choose the wrong plan?
Hooper says people choose the wrong plan up to 88 percent of the time. The cost is high.
“On average, it’s going to cost them about $500 dollars a year,” he says.
“People tend to overemphasize the deductible and the primary care copay,” he says. “And so what you see is those are the two numbers most promoted in insurance marketing materials, and it’s almost always the wrong way to choose a plan.”
So how can we be smart consumers?
- Don’t automatically renew. Many new plans are coming out in Texas, Hooper says. And usually, if you take the time to investigate you can find a better deal.
- Don’t focus solely on the deductible and copay. Hooper says the search for a low deductible and low copay might not be in your best interest if you’re paying hundreds more for your premium each month.
- Pay attention to your doctor networks. Making sure you doctors are in network is very important to save money, Hooper says. But at the same time, don’t just choose networks because they include your doctor.”A lot of people get trapped trying to pay for those very expensive doctor networks when there’s lots of other great providers out there at a much lower cost,” Hooper says.