Open enrollment season is almost here.
If you are considering switching insurance providers or need to get insurance for the first time, think about how you would answer these 10 questions during open enrollment. Answering these questions accurately can help you narrow down your options and choose the plan that best meets your needs.
1. What Comes Out of My Pocket?
Consider how much you can afford to pay out of pocket every time you visit a doctor. Out-of-pocket expenses included deductibles, copays, and coinsurance payments and are paid in addition to your premium. If you don’t use your health care a great deal, then a high deductible or high copays might be okay. If you like to plan your expenses ahead of time, then a higher premium might be the way to go.
2. Can FSAs and HSAs Save Me Money?
FSAs (flexible spending accounts) and HSAs (health savings accounts) are pre-tax savings accounts that allow you to put money away to cover medical expenses. They can reduce your tax burden, but there are strict rules about what the money can be used for. These types of plans work well for young people who have time to save before facing large medical expenses. Read more.
3. What Is My Health Like?
If your health hasn’t been the best, then you might be wise to pick a low-deductible plan knowing that you are going to make use of it. Consider how much you exercise, how risky your hobbies are, and what kinds of lifestyle choices you make (e.g. smoking). The higher your risks, the better off you are going with a plan that has higher premiums but covers things like hospital stays. Read more.
4. Do I Engage in Health Maintenance?
Do you get regular check-ups and visit the dentist every six months? If so, look for plans during open enrollment that cover these expenses or that minimize your co-pays. Figure out if paying the higher premiums offsets these costs.
5. Do I Want to See a Specific Provider?
You need to look at your health insurance options and see if they cover the individual providers you want to see. Can you afford the plans that cover the individual providers you want to see? Think about specific medical facilities you’d prefer as well.
6. Does the Plan Cover My Medications?
Prescription drugs are one of the biggest health expenses that people face. Determine what plans cover medications you currently take and try to anticipate what medications you will be taking in the near future (e.g. cholesterol-lower drugs). Do you prefer name-brand drugs to generic medications?
7. Do I Need Life Insurance?
If your employer doesn’t offer life insurance or doesn’t offer enough, then you might want to consider plans that offer life insurance during open enrollment season. You may also want to consider who is protected under your current plan and whether or not you need a second plan to cover everyone in your life. Read more.
8. How Has My Family Life Changed?
Do you have children on the way? Does your spouse or partner also need medical coverage? Has the health status of someone in your family changed? In many cases, your health insurance covers multiple individuals in your family, so you need to think about many of the questions above as they relate to others in your family.
9. Do I Need Disability Insurance?
Disability insurance protects your income if you are injured and cannot work. This money can help you with your mortgage, car payments, and daily expenses. If you are a saver, maybe you don’t need to worry about this. Then again, if the price is right, disability insurance could save your house and let you keep your savings intact.
10. What Is My Partner Doing?
The biggest mistake people make when figuring out their benefits is to fail to consult with their spouse or partner. You need to know if your wife’s insurance coverage has changed, if your husband has new medical concerns to worry about, or if benefits are being cut at your partner’s company. Before you make any changes to your insurance coverage this open enrollment season, go over everything with your partner.