3 common mistakes to avoid when selecting a health plan

Health insurance may be one of your most important purchases each year. Navigating the process may be tricky at times but diving into the details is important to ensure you’re making the best possible decisions for protecting yourself and your family. The key is to avoid costly mistakes that may hurt you in the long run.

Here are three things to watch out for during open enrollment:

1.     Lack of research

In a recent UnitedHealthcare survey, more than one quarter (28%) of respondents said they devoted less than an hour researching health benefits during open enrollment. By not investing the time required to research all the options available, you run the risk of having your selection fail to meet your unique health and budget needs. You may also overlook choices designed to make your health care simpler and more affordable.

Choosing a plan that covers your known and unexpected needs requires careful consideration of costs and benefits, along with answers to questions like:

  • How often do you see a doctor?
  • Do you regularly take prescription medication?
  • Do you have any surgeries or other medical procedures scheduled?
  • Are you planning to grow your family next year?

Consider blocking off time to review and understand all your options for different scenarios, so you can choose the appropriate coverage for 2022.

2.     Misunderstanding costs

During open enrollment, some people focus solely on the price of premiums and fail to take into consideration other health care costs, such as:

  • Deductibles
  • Copays
  • Coinsurance
  • Out-of-pocket maximums
  • Prescriptions

These are all important factors in determining your total annual cost of health care. It may be helpful to add up what you’ve spent on health care this year to see which open enrollment option will be the best pick for next year.

If you need a refresher on common health care terms and lingo, watch this video.

3.     Forgetting to confirm your coverage

Don’t assume your doctor and/or prescription medications are covered in your new plan.

Seventy-six percent of respondents in a previous UnitedHealthcare survey said they check if their doctors are in-network for the health plan they intend to select. However, that means about 1 in 4 people don’t, and that may be a costly mistake due to the expense of receiving care out of network. The same is true about not knowing whether your prescriptions are covered.

Finding a doctor or clinic that is in-network may help keep costs down. When you're reviewing your health plan options, consider taking these steps:

  • Check to see if your primary doctor, provider or clinic is in-network for the plan you are considering
  • Check to see if your mental health professionals, dentists and specialty providers are in-network 
  • Find out if there is partial coverage for out-of-network providers

Whether you’re taking regular prescriptions or specialty medications, their cost varies based on each plan. Check to see if the plan you’re considering covers generic and brand-name versions of your medications. Also, make sure you receive your medications from a pharmacy that’s in your network; otherwise, they may not be covered, or you may pay more.

For more helpful articles and videos about open enrollment, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.

To learn about different health insurance options, visit uhc.com.