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Health Literacy Key for NYers Buying Insurance


Monday, October 26, 2020   

NEW YORK -- Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins Sunday, Nov. 1, and health-care advocates are ready to help consumers learn what they need and what to look out for when shopping for a new plan.

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have lost their jobs and their employer-based health insurance during the pandemic.

October has been designated "Health Literacy Month" to help educate consumers about their own health and options such as Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and plans available through New York's insurance marketplace.

Dr. Donna Christensen, former U.S. representative and board member for Consumers for Quality Care, said about 40% of people are not as "health literate" as they ought to be.

"That can result in not only picking the wrong insurance but even in just reading a prescription, understanding the illnesses that you may be suffering from," Christensen explained.

Christensen outlined there are a lot of things people shopping for an insurance plan need to look out for.

"You want to make sure that your medication is covered," Christensen stressed. "You want to look at whether that plan has a co-pay or co-insurance, surprise billing."

She added unexpected bills for hospital care can easily be far beyond a consumer's ability to pay, and hospitals may aggressively pursue payment.

Christensen noted whether a person has lost their employer-based health insurance during the pandemic or simply wants to select a new plan, they need to be informed about their options.

"Health Literacy Month is a way to make sure not only that people read more health information but that we provide that health information in ways that are easy to understand," Christensen concluded.

Open enrollment for plans available through the Affordable Care Act will end on Dec. 15.

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