The time of year is here when Missouri workers shop around for their individual health insurance plans for next year.

Information from the state Department of Commerce and Insurance shows some average insurance rates will decline while others remain mostly unchanged or will increase.

For coverage to begin January 1, the state agency said Missourians must open enroll by December 15. Those that miss the December 15 deadline have until January 15 to enroll; however, coverage will not begin until February 1 for residents who enroll after December 15.

Advice from the Department includes:

*When shopping for health insurance, it’s important to consider more than just cost. It’s also important to understand what services the policy will cover, the costs you’ll be responsible for, and your current and potential future health care needs, from anticipated surgeries to prescription drugs.

*Check provider networks to make sure your current providers are in the network of the plan you are considering. There are provider directories online, but the department strongly encourages consumers to also contact their healthcare providers directly to make sure they will be in network with the health plan for the upcoming year to avoid any issues later.

*Review and compare the costs associated with each plan, including all of the out-of-pocket costs you may have to pay – premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance amounts. It’s important to get the advice of a trusted insurance agent or assister to review policies and coverages.

*Be wary of any advertisements or solicitations that promote low cost or no cost health coverage.

For any insurance questions, call DCI’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit

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