Health Insurance Open Enrollment Tips

Written by , October 4, 2011

Health Insurance Open Enrollment TipsNovember is right around the corner and for millions of people that means open enrollment time for their health insurance plans. Open enrollment is the time when employees and employers can make changes to their insurance needs. It can be a confusing time. You’re often faced with an abundance of decisions and many of them may not be clear.

Before open enrollment comes around and you’re handed a stack of paperwork to review and sign, consider these open enrollment tips.
Being prepared for it will help you make the right insurance decisions for you and your family.

Here is some insurance advice to help you select your health insurance plan.

  • Review Your Health Care Needs for the Past Year. How often did you visit the doctor? What expenses did you have? What challenges did you face and what did you dislike about your medical and insurance experiences? For example, maybe you found that last year you only visited the doctor once for a checkup and that your annual premium didn’t reflect your medical needs. Conversely, you may have found that you visited the doctor often and a lower deductible would have been beneficial.
  • Educate Yourself on the Terminology. Let’s be honest, the insurance industry has its own language. It’s difficult to know what your options are if you don’t understand the terminology. Deductible, co-insurance and out of network are just a few of the terms you’ll likely read. Know what they mean so you can make the right choices for your financial situation.
  • Know What Your Employer’s Plan Covers/Offers. This is important. Your employer may pay for your insurance premium entirely. They may pay for a percentage of it or they may pay nothing. Know what your employer covers so you can plan accordingly. For example, if they pay your monthly premium, it makes sense to get the best insurance available. If they only pay a percentage, know that percentage so you can create a realistic budget that meets both your financial and insurance needs.
  • FSAs and HSAs. These are two additional terms that it pays to know. FSA stands for Flexible Spending Account and HSA stands for Health Savings Account. Both offer tax benefits and can help reduce your insurance expenses each year. Learn about them and what your employer offers. At enrollment time you’ll have the information you need to sign up for one of these options.
  • Go to the Meetings. It’s so tempting to skip the open enrollment meetings. After all, they give you all the paperwork, right? You just need to read it. However, you may miss important explanations and perks that aren’t mentioned in your basic enrollment paperwork. For example, your employer may offer a gym membership or weight loss program that could impact your life insurance rates. Go to the meetings. You just may learn something valuable.
  • Finally, make sure that your doctor or preferred physician isn’t making any changes. Medical practices and physicians change what insurances they participate with. It’s always a shame to learn that your doctor no longer participates with your insurance provider. Open enrollment time is right around the corner. Take a look back at the past year, check with your physician and be prepared to make changes to support your future medical and financial needs.

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