Decisions, decisions, decisions. 

A lot of decisions must be made this time of year, when people are given a short period of time to choose a health care plan for the following year. It might be a plan sponsored by an employer, those available through Affordable Care Act marketplace, or navigating all the numerous parts of Medicare. 

Wading through that much information is difficult enough, but all the jargon insurers use can fog the mind and glaze the eyes in no time. Still, it’s a task one must get done, and any decision made better be correct because it cannot be undone for another year — a mistake could have financial consequences that endure even longer.

After surviving the parties of my youth and the battles of middle age, I looked forward to reaping the benefits provided by Medicare. It’s a program to which I — and several of my employers — contributed to for decades, and one I always hoped to live long enough to enjoy. 

A barrage of mail sent by insurers jockeying for a chance to sell a supplement plan to cover what Medicare doesn’t tends to confuse more than help. So I turned toward AARP, which explains the available options clearly and concisely, and found an appealing option that offers better coverage and lower costs than premium plans I’ve had in the past.

I then turned my attention to the health care exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act to find spousal coverage no longer available as an employer-sponsored benefit. The available plans are affordable and provide coverage that would be hard to beat in the private insurance market. 

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals premiums for benchmark plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges will decrease in 2021. It is the third straight year of declining premiums, and the report shows most of those eligible to buy a plan from the exchange will have more choices when they choose a plan. 

Admittedly, there was some concern when the president, who typically would dispatch the solicitor general to defend an existing law when it is challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, sided with those trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Justices assuaged those concerns somewhat during oral arguments this week when they expressed their skepticism about the plaintiffs’ legal theories. 

Attempting to dismantle a law that prohibits insurers from discriminating against consumers with pre-existing illnesses and requires all plans provide a basic level of coverage is short-sighted. Yanking away good, affordable health care plans from nearly 11.5 million people while a pandemic continues to rage across America would be maniacal. 

Resources that used to be available to help consumers find affordable health care were repurposed. So for those who are unaware of the available options through the ACA exchanges, check out the available plans at before the Dec. 15 deadline.

For the millions of workers who lost employer-sponsored insurance due to the pandemic, this could be a critical lifeline.

D.E. Smoot covers city/county government for the Phoenix.

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