Every fall, businesses offer open enrollment opportunities for their employees.
Though these opportunities come just once a year, they can have a big impact on your family. To make the most of your choices during open enrollment, it’s important to understand what your options are and what effect they have on the health care you and your family will receive in the coming year.
Here are a few tips to help you understand the process as well as the options available to you:
- Ask questions. Talk to your Human Resources representative and find out when your open enrollment deadline is. Ask what changes have been made to your options in the past year, including benefit updates for health care plans and if there are increased or decreased costs to you.
- Compare, compare, compare! Look at the plan choices you are offered and compare the out-of-pocket costs; the deductibles; the coverage; and the in-network physicians.
- Prioritize. Determine what is most important to you. Your priority may be keeping your doctor, having access to a certain hospital, or keeping your cost low. Once you know your priorities, making your choices will be easier.
- Plan ahead. Many people choose a health insurance plan for where their life is right now. However, it is important to plan ahead and try to anticipate what your family’s medical needs may be in the coming year. Elective surgeries, pregnancies, vision, or dental needs can all have an impact on your health care choices. These considerations can affect which plan you choose (such as selecting a PPO or HMO), and how much money you need to set aside in a flexible spending account (FSA), if that is an option for you. Also, if you take any prescription drugs, check to see if they are covered by the plan you are selecting.
- Consider life changes. A lot can happen in 12 months, so consider what will be happening in your life in the coming year before you make your health care choices. Are you getting married? Having a baby? Changing careers? Is your child moving out of your house and onto his or her own insurance coverage? All of these life changes can have a big impact on what type of health insurance you need.
- Understand what you are signing up for. It can be overwhelming to figure out co-pays, deductibles and premiums, and can feel like a different language. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the terminology so that you can compare your choices appropriately. Time spent now can save you money down the road and ensure that the coverage you need is available to you.