With all the buzz about “health insurance exchanges” and “insurance subsidies” you may be preparing to spring into action. My advice: “look before you leap.”

There are many unanswered questions, and the information presented isn’t comprehensive or conclusive.

Here are some things to ponder:

  • If you surrender current coverage, could you get it back?
  • There have been numerable waivers, postponements and changes will there be more?

The first few weeks of open enrollment will be the most chaotic, waiting will make follow-up easier.
ACA coverage doesn’t start until January 1, 2014. Signing up in November leaves plenty of time.

For now there are still too many unknowns:

  • What kind of provider networks will be offered by different plans.
  • Will you have access to your doctor and favorite hospital?
  • Will your current income qualify you for Medi-Cal only?
  • Will your need for privacy outweigh the benefit of a subsidy?
  • What changes might your employer choose?

You’ll want to make sure you have explored your options thoroughly, before committing to a change for you and your family. For instance, will you have the option of employer coverage or be offered a defined contribution that can be used toward your premium. If an employer won’t be involved, would you be better off using the small business exchange, the individual exchange or buying your coverage directly through an insurance carrier?

You will want to know if you or a family member will qualify for a subsidy and how much you are eligible for. Medi-Cal may be what is offered for some or all of your family and you will want to consider the implications involved in this choice.

Your most important choice, and you can start now, is to find a reputable insurance agent, who can help you get the answers to the questions and concerns stated above.

Calling an agent today and asking if they can help you whether what’s best is group, individual, on or off exchange, is putting your best foot forward instead of leaping.