Choosing a health care plan is no one’s favorite task. Many of us would rather clean a toilet or do our taxes than research health benefits — seriously, a survey looked into it.
But picking a plan can be one of the most important decisions you’ll make, for your health and your finances. As the health care world grapples with seismic changes and skyrocketing costs, consumers are paying more out of pocket.
That makes choosing the right plan even more important. In one study, a majority of employees at a huge corporation chose health care plans that were more expensive over the course of the year than other options would have been.
“Health care shopping isn’t like grocery shopping for oranges or rice — you don’t know what you’re shopping for or what exactly you’ll need,” says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy organization. “It can be tough to tell the difference between a policy that will cover you if you get sick and one that won’t.”
Tough, yes — but necessary.
So how do you make the right choice? We’re here to help you cut through the confusion. Open enrollment season is generally in the fall — that’s when everyone can compare plans and pick a new one. Before you start, here are a few things to consider as you weigh your options.
ESTIMATE YOUR HEALTH COSTS
Try to look back at how much you’ve spent on health care in past years and estimate what you might spend this year.
SEE IF YOUR DOCTOR IS IN NETWORK
If you have a doctor you want to keep, call their office to see if they will accept the plan you are considering.
COMPARE THE PLANS SIDE BY SIDE
Now you’ll want to look at the deductible, the copays, the coinsurance, and out-of-pocket max, to see how much you’re on the hook for. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.
Every company’s health plan is unique, and not every type of plan is available to everyone. Make sure you talk to your benefits department to understand the plans that are available to you.
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