It’s time to gear up for open enrollment season
Choosing health benefits may be one of the most important decisions you make every year. Check out these top 10 tips to choosing the plan that’s best for you and your family. Even if you believe that you understand health insurance, it doesn’t hurt to review the basics again.
Tip 1: Make sure you understand the meaning of terms such as deductible, co-insurance, premium, in-network and health savings account. If you’re clueless about some of the terms, you’re not alone. A recent poll found that more than 50 percent of Americans could not correctly define common health insurance terms. Check out a glossary for hundreds of health benefits-related definitions.
Tip 2: Don’t just think of yourself. If others will be covered under your benefits plan, take this into consideration as you are reviewing your benefits for the upcoming year.
Tip 3: Make a list of your current and anticipated future health-care needs. The list could include prescription medications or any planned surgeries or health-care procedures for the upcoming year.
Tip 4: Follow up on your own list and ask your doctor or doctor’s office staff questions about tests, medications, consultations and other health-care services you and your family may need over the next year.
Tip 5: Determine which benefit plan worked best for you in the past. That plan may still work for you. However, if you have had a major life change–getting married, having a baby, retiring–you will need to rethink your health benefits needs. A change in your overall health may also warrant a fresh look at the right benefit plan for you.
Tip 6: Consider any problems you had with previous benefits plans. The open enrollment period is a good time to try to learn more about coverage you wish you had in the past. And be sure to read the fine print; it contains important explanations and definitions.
Tip 7: Carefully review open enrollment materials provided by your employer or information from your insurer about next year’s plans. In particular, try to make note of how the benefits plans will change from this year to next, and whether your preferred doctors and hospitals are in the plan’s network.
Tip 8: Know the deadline for making your decision. Make specific note of the timeline for enrollment, and give yourself plenty of time to choose your benefits before the deadline arrives. Start early. Trust us—scrambling for answers with a deadline looming is no fun at all.
Tip 9: Ask questions. If you don’t understand the details of the plan offered, ask your employer, or your broker, marketplace or insurance company if you are buying coverage yourself. Many employers also have open enrollment meetings and other resources to help you better understand your options. You need to understand what you’re buying.
Tip 10: While there are probably several factors in your health benefits decision, cost is almost definitely one of the biggest factors. Make sure you understand all of the costs associated with your plan, and not just the plan premium.