3 Ways Stride Makes Getting Health Coverage Easier this Open Enrollment
This post was originally posted on the Stride Health blog on October 31st.
If you’re responsible for buying your own health insurance, you may be wondering how some of the recent press about the health insurance marketplaces will affect you this Open Enrollment (which starts on November 1st and is the one time of year you can purchase or change your health insurance). The withdrawal of United and Aetna from many markets, increasing premiums, and changes to plan designs make re-evaluating your options this year even more important. Fortunately, the team here at Stride Health has your back when it comes to navigating these changes to protect your health and your wallet: we’ve made updates to our product to help you maximize savings, reduce the impact of premium increases, and find plans that offer unique value when you select your health insurance for 2017.
What we’ve heard from our members (you!)
“Premiums seem to be going up — how am I going to afford this?”
At Stride, we spend A LOT of time thinking about how we can save our members money. We’ve even been known to build apps that help with this. So when we saw some premium increases upwards of 20%, we knew we had to act to help our members maximize their savings this Open Enrollment. The good news is, government subsidies can almost entirely offset the impact of premium increases (if you qualify). This is because subsidies are determined based on the prices of plans in your area. If those prices increase, so does the amount the government will contribute toward your monthly payments.
Recent data released by the Department of Health and Human Services provides a concrete example of this:
A 27-year-old with an income of $25,000 will see a 62% increase in government subsidies this year and will actually pay a dollar LESS this year for the same plan!
The data also indicated that 22% of individuals who purchased a plan last year without a subsidy have incomes that will qualify them for a subsidy in 2017 due to the increase in plan prices.
That’s a long way of saying: determining if you qualify for subsidies is VERY important this year. We also know that it’s particularly hard for independent workers who have multiple income sources to figure this out. We’ve made three changes to make this easier:
#1 It’s faster to see if you qualify for a subsidy
First, we now provide an explicit “income threshold” to make determining whether you qualify easier. We found that when we asked many of you whether you wanted to check for subsidies, you gave us blank stares and often said “no” when you probably should have said “yes.” You were leaving money on the table. But when we asked you if you made more or less than $45,000 a year (as an example), you found it very easy to provide a quick and accurate answer.
#2 Predicting your income is simpler
Second, we now allow you to break-down your income into specific jobs (since we know many of you have multiple of them!). We found that asking some of you for a specific income for your full year produced some hems, haws, and “fuzzy math.” But when we allowed you to break your income down into your specific jobs and income sources, you quickly produced a number that was in-line with what you expected to earn for the year.
#3 It’s now easier to minimize taxable income and maximize subsidies
Third, we made capturing your business expenses and tax deductions more explicit so you can minimize your taxable income and maximize your savings through government subsidies. About 85% of our customers declined to enter tax deductions when applying for health insurance on Stride last year. We’ve updated the product to make this faster and easier (and if you use our free expense and deduction tracking app, Stride Drive, this becomes even more painless).
“Deductibles are increasing — what value can I get from my plan without spending hundreds of dollars?”
At Stride, we think about more than the single transaction of purchasing your health insurance. We stick with you throughout the year to help with things like finding an in-network doctor, finding discounts on prescription drugs, planning for your annual physical, and getting concierge-style assistance from our award-winning Member Experience team. As plan prices and deductibles increase, we heard you asking for even more ways to ensure you’re getting value out of your plan each year.
This year, our team went on a mission to identify all the free and discounted care available from each health insurer. We knew many of them had special discounts and free services included in their plans but we also knew that those perks are mostly unknown and hard to access by consumers. We now surface additional free and discounted care available in each plan on the plan details page. Our favorite examples include:
- Fitness programs (like gym membership reimbursements!)
- Nutrition counseling
- Telemedicine (like free and discounted telemedicine visits whenever you need them!)
- Weight management programs (like discounted Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig memberships)
- Plans that offer the first 2 or 3 primary care visits for a low co-pay amount
To find out if the plan you’re interested in has free care, simply look for the “your plan has additional free care” note in the “Free Care” section of the plan details. No other site has this — it’s only available on Stride!
As the 2017 Open Enrollment Period begins, the team here at Stride couldn’t be more excited to help you find your perfect health plan while saving you money. If you have feedback on any of our most recent product updates, I’m always interested in hearing directly from customers: firstname.lastname@example.org.