The time of year is here when many Missourians are shopping around for health insurance. For coverage to begin January 1, Missourians must sign up for a health insurance plan by December 15.

Information from the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance shows some average insurance rates will decline while others remain mostly unchanged or will increase. Carrie Couch, the department’s Insurance Consumer Affairs Division Director, recommends residents look beyond the rates.

“We really recommend people look at things like whether or not they have prescriptions that they need, the deductible amount, the types of providers and the types of services they need. We really encourage folks to really look at the whole picture, because rates may not always be an indication of the best plan for you,” Couch told Missourinet. “Health insurance rates those can really vary by geographic location, by age, the type of plan a person is selecting, tobacco use, dependents, those types of factors come into play.”

As in previous years, Missouri has at least one insurance company offering health plans in every county in the state. Over 75% of Missouri’s counties now have three or more carriers offering coverage in the individual market, and nearly a third of the counties in the state have five or more carriers offering coverage.

“In most counties, there’s going to be more than one carrier, some variety, and some choice,” she said.

Couch said the agency gets complaints about insurance scams all year round, but especially during open enrollment time.

“If someone is contacting you, and if it seems too good to be true, they’re offering you a very low cost health plan, if it seems too good to be true, then it’s possible that it is and that it may be a scam. So it’s very important to ask lots of questions,” said Couch.

She recommends reaching out to the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance to find out whether the health plan is legitimate and if the plan fits your needs: 1-800-726-7390.

To review rate information and use the agency’s insurance shopping tool, click here.

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