Open enrollment season is around the corner, which means you will have the opportunity to select or switch your health insurance plan for 2021. But with different options to choose from, you want to feel confident you are picking the right one for you. Here are five tips to consider when choosing a plan that may help lead you to better health and cost savings.
- Understand your options. When it comes to selecting a plan, one size does not fit all. Whether you are selecting a plan for the first time or evaluating how well your current plan is meeting your needs, take the time to understand and compare the benefits, services and costs of each plan so you can find what will work best for you. A good first step is to make sure you understand health insurance lingo, such as premium, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. If you need a refresher, check out the Health Care ABCs. And if you’re of Medicare age, ensure you’re familiar with the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage as you weigh your options.
- Anticipate next year’s health expenses. If you are expecting a significant health event in the next year, such as a surgery or the birth of a child, you should compare the differences between plan designs, including out-of-pocket maximums.
- Consider a plan with the convenience of telehealth and virtual visits. If you are busy juggling kids’ schedules, work responsibilities, or simply prefer to connect with a doctor from the convenience of your own home, consider choosing a plan that includes 24/7 virtual visits. It’s designed to be an easier, more affordable way to talk to a doctor about common health issues and all you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer. Often, telehealth is available to members of employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans.
- Ask about wellness programs. Many health plans now offer financial incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional costs.
- Don’t forget about specialty benefits. Additional benefits, such dental, vision, hearing or critical illness insurance, are often coverage options that can help protect you and your family. For Medicare beneficiaries, some may be surprised that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services, but many Medicare Advantage plans do.
For people with employer-provided coverage, open enrollment typically occurs within a two-week period between September and December. Those eligible for Medicare can enroll or make changes to their coverage from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. For most members, changes made during this time will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.