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Last Call, Chicago, For Your Health Insurance - Deadline March 31, 2014

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All good things come to an end, right? It has been a long time coming. The legacy health care reform, also known as 'Obamacare', open enrollment period is about to come to an end. If you do not make a decision before it closes, "You snooze, you lose". You will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to select a plan. Oh wait... You will have to pay a tax penalty as well. Whoa!

Life is too precious to have it become miserable and financially devastating over a $25,000 surgery bill from the hospital. Or maybe even take your kid to the emergency room only to receive a love letter from them, attached to a $3,000 invoice for 'services rendered on little Johnny'. Holy smokes! This will have more of an impact on you, financially, than the tax penalty.

Yes, there are exceptions to qualify for a 'Special Enrollment Period' to bridge the gap until the next open enrollment period. If you are considered for the "Special Enrollment Periods" (between 4/1/14 and 11/15/14), you will be able to buy another individual major medical policy on a no preexisting condition basis from any insurance company offering a Qualified Health Plan (QHP). This is even though you are applying outside the annual open enrollment period.

You could just go to the state or government websites to enroll on your own. But good luck. Doing the wrong thing on your own could cost you.

You could also use a Navigator. Many are available 24/7.

Insider Tip: Navigators do NOT go through background checks to be employed by an organization or non-profit to assist those enrolling into a health plan. There have been cases where ex-criminals were behind the desk. Buyer beware! Also, they are not supposed to give you any advice. They are not advisors. They are there just to enroll people into a plan with a title of 'Navigator'. If you are lo`oking for insight from an industry expert, do not look to a Navigator. They are good for customer service and filling out paperwork.

Insurance agents have to go through a licensing process. Every 1-2 years we have to renew this insurance license. This is after taking some continuing education courses on approved subjects by the state. The state also does a check for huge violations of the insurance laws. Those who are able to renew and maintain their insurance license remain in good standing. On top of this, there are subject matter experts in the mix of the licensed insurance agents. They are out there, you just have to look for them.

Beyond any open enrollment period, the health care law, or picking a plan, health insurance protects everything you worked so hard for. This speaks for all of your insurances. We do not buy health insurance to save $20 at the pharmacy or $100 at the doctor's. Sure, anyone can agree it is nice to receive more value out of what we pay on a monthly basis. However, it is about protecting you from unexpected and expensive losses.

Health insurance is there for things such as your wife going into the hospital for a surgery, followed by two days of observation. It can also be lifesaving in the event of a serious illness. Since illness doesn't discriminate, you could be racking up $300,000 a year in bills for chemotherapy treatment. How do you protect yourself against that? Health insurance gives you a peace of mind that the majority of the hospital bill will be covered by the health insurance.

Maybe you already have health insurance... By doing some due diligence with a trusted advisor and subject matter expert, you can make sure you are protected the way you want or need based on the budget you can afford. With all of these health care reform changes, you can never be too sure you are receiving the best deal. How would you know? There could be that chance of getting better coverage with a lower premium. Just maybe.

The deadline is March 31, 2014, at the time of this writing.

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