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Last week was another busy news week with escaped fugitives, ongoing financial trauma in Greece, voting on gay marriage and, oh yes, the Affordable Care Act was once again determined to be legal. What does this mean for all of us who are purchasers of health insurance plans?

It means that nothing has changed. The rules of required participation in Affordable Care Act compliant plans remains the same. The penalties for not meeting the guidelines have not changed. Employer mandate deadlines continue to bear down on us all. In short, plan to stay the course until further notice.

Individual plan holders need to prepare for the open enrollment which is currently scheduled to begin on November 1 for January 1 effective dates. We all need to chat with our providers to ask if they can project any changes in their structure or their participation in current networks. We should review our medications so that we can check their availability in 2016 contracts. We must gather our thoughts about how we historically use health services in order to make meaningful decisions when we select carriers and plan designs.

Employer-based plan holders need to prepare for their renewals as the universe of insurance providers appears to be shrinking. There is much conversation in the news of who is buying whom and where possible mergers will appear. Analysis of how employees use plans is becoming ever more critical as we need to focus on benefits that are the most important.

And in all this, rates continue to spiral up. Rate increases this year have been amongst the highest I have seen in my many decades in the benefits business for both groups and individuals. Many of us are considering a return to the past, piecing together plans to cover the types of expenses most likely to hit us while still protecting against the medical crises that will result in financial disaster if they hit.

It is a time that requires us to address honestly how we use medical care and how we can improve on how we each access care. We each need to find a resource that can provide us not only the research necessary to make good decisions, but also the creativity to help us put together a plan tailored to our specific needs. We at CDA Inc. are in the habit of reviewing our clients’ plans annually in order to be sure that they have the best plans available at the best price. I suggest you do the same. Give us a call at CDA, Inc. – we are happy to help!