How do I compare my health insurance options during open enrollment?
The decisions you make during open enrollment season regarding health insurance are especially important, since you generally must stick with the options you choose until the next open enrollment season, unless you experience a “qualifying” event such as marriage or the birth of a child. As a result, you should take the time to carefully review the types of plans offered by your employer and consider all the costs associated with each plan.
With most health insurance plans, your employer will pay a portion of the premium and require you to pay the remainder through payroll deductions. When comparing different plans, keep in mind that even though a plan with a lower premium may seem like the most attractive option, it could have higher potential out-of-pocket costs.
You’ll want to review the copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance associated with each plan. This is an important step because these costs can greatly affect what you end up paying out-of-pocket. When reviewing the costs of each plan, consider the following:
- Does the plan have an individual or family deductible? If so, what is the amount that will have to be satisfied before your insurance coverage kicks in?
- Are there copayments? If so what amounts are charged for doctor visits, specialists, hospital visits, and prescription drugs?
- Will you have to pay any coinsurance once you’ve satisfied the deductible?
You should also assess each plan’s coverage and specific features. For example, are there coverage exclusions or limitations that apply? Which expenses are fully or partially covered? Do you have the option to go to doctors who are outside your plan’s provider network? Does the plan offer additional types of coverage for vision, dental, or prescription drugs?
In the end, when reviewing your options, you’ll want to balance the coverage and features offered under each plan against the plan’s overall cost to determine which plan offers you the best value for your money.