Protect / Health Care

Open Enrollment Season: How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

Katie Doyle  |  November 1, 2018

Did someone say “open enrollment” at your office?! It's almost as exciting as when Elf heard Santa was coming to Gimbels. When we choose a health insurance plan, we get just as excited around here, too!

Many employees simply let their health insurance policies roll over from year to year without review, but we know HerMoney goal-getters are on top of everything, including health care plan changes.

Let’s walk through the basics of what you can expect during open enrollment and what kind of health plan will best serve your needs. Because in all seriousness, getting reduced-cost or free health insurance from our employers is a major perk.

What Is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment for your employer can be any time of year (it’s usually around when your company’s contract renews), and it lasts around a month, but many of them start Nov. 1. This is the time of year when you can make changes to your health insurance plan without needing a qualifying event.

What’s that, you say? A qualifying event is insurance company lingo for a big life change that allows you to make changes to your plan between open enrollment periods — think the birth of a baby, an adoption, a wedding or a divorce.

No matter your reason for making a change, there are several steps to take before signing up for another year.

Look at Last Year’s Health Care Expenses

Take a look at what you spent on health care last year. Aside from one-time major medical expenses, your costs this year will likely be similar. Use this information to get an idea of what kinds of services you used and how much you spent on them, then pick the plan that is going to cover those services and be the most cost effective.

Make Sure Your Doctors Are Still In-Network

This is a big one for us. If you have a doctor you love, make sure they’re still in-network for this year. Every once in a while providers will make a change in plan affiliation, and you don’t want to find out when you show up to the office for a visit. The same is true for prescription drugs and other services you use regularly — be sure they are still covered by your plan. If not, put those shopping skills to work — find a health insurance option that works for your needs!

Consider High-Deductible Plans and HSAs

High-deductible health insurance plans offer *shocker* higher deductibles in exchange for lower premiums each month. And they’re becoming the only option for more and more employees. When paired with HSAs — health savings accounts — you get a twofer: HSAs allow you to stash away savings that you can use to fund the cost of health care. And fun fact, HSAs have a trifecta of tax benefits: Contributions are deducted pretax from your paychecks, gains on the money are tax-free AND withdrawals from account are tax-free, assuming you’re using the money for eligible reasons.

Check the Marketplace

You may have the option to buy your insurance from the health insurance marketplace. Most company-sponsored insurance options will be more cost-effective, but visit Healthcare.gov to see any other available plans and prices.

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