What’s new for open enrollment this year?

Open enrollment is a chance to select or switch your health plan for the coming year. A helpful place to start the process may be by figuring out what’s changed since the last time you signed up for coverage. This year, there may be new options designed to make your health care simpler and more affordable.

You may be able to choose between in-person and virtual care, and there may be increased access to mental health support. You might find wellness programs with incentives to exercise or quit smoking. Beyond traditional specialty benefits like dental, vision and hearing, there may be additional voluntary benefits that could be a good fit for you and your family, such as critical illness or accident protection.

Here are a few things to watch for:

Expanded virtual care options

The use of virtual care services has increased dramatically since the emergence of COVID-19 and remains above pre-pandemic levels. Patient satisfaction with these telehealth offerings remains high, too.

For some plans, you may now be able to see a primary care physician (PCP) virtually, making it more convenient to access this type of care. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s virtual primary care service may enable you to connect with a PCP via a computer, tablet or smartphone for:

  • Annual wellness visits
  • Appointments for minor ailments
  • Regular follow-ups for ongoing health conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and more
  • Prescription questions
  • Ordering lab tests and reviewing the results
  • Referrals to specialists

Increased mental health support

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased burnout in the workplace and boosted many people’s levels of stress and anxiety. During open enrollment, consider the new or existing mental health benefits that may be available in your health plan. Some employers may be offering additional access to these services, including through virtual care.

For eligible UnitedHealthcare members, mental health education, coaching, therapy and psychiatric care may be available, along with digital tools, such as the Sanvello app, which offer virtual support for dealing with stress and anxiety in and out of the workplace.

New wellness programs

Increasingly, some health plans are expanding benefits to include wellness programs that may help you lose weight and others that increase your fitness options.

For example, eligible UnitedHealthcare members in certain states who own an Apple Watch will soon be able to sign up for Apple Fitness+ and get a 12-month subscription at no additional cost. Apple Fitness+ includes a wide variety of studio-style workouts for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, powered by Apple Watch for real-time fitness metrics. 

Higher HSA contributions

Health Savings Account (HSA) lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. It is available to people with high-deductible health plans.

HSA contribution limits are going up in 2022 by $50 for self-only coverage and $100 for family coverage. The limit on HSA contributions will be:

  • $3,650 for self-only
  • $7,300 for family coverage

The catch-up contribution for people 55 and older will remain the same at $1,000 for 2022.

Enrollment dates

If you miss the sign-up window, you may have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make any changes. After you see what may be new in your plan options, make sure you know when you can sign up:

  • If you have employer-provided coverage, open enrollment typically occurs within a two-week period between September and December.
  • For Affordable Care Act plans, visit your state’s health insurance website to find this year’s enrollment dates. Some states have extended enrollment this year.
  • If you’re eligible for Medicare, you can enroll or make changes to coverage from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

Arming yourself with valuable resources and information before enrolling in next year’s plan may help you feel confident about making choices for you and your family.

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