Selecting health insurance can be overwhelming. Health Care Open Enrollment time comes around and I groan at the idea of sorting through premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Plus, our disastrous health care pick of a few years back still looms over me. I know that the new Healthcare Marketplace is supposed to make it easier to choose a plan, but I’ve still been putting off making a selection.
Healthcare Open Enrollment for 2015 is available from November 15th to February 15th. This means that time for procrastinating health care enrollment has passed. I need to set aside my reservations and enter the Healthcare Marketplace.
Where Do I Start?
It helps to think of the online HealthCare Marketplace, available at Healthcare.gov or through your state website, as a sort of Travelocity for health coverage. If you were planning a trip, you would probably visit an online travel comparison site. The site would prompt you to enter in relevant data; such as your destination, travel dates, any special accommodations, and number of travelers. Your data would then be used to create a comparison chart with details of all of your options.
The HealthCare Marketplace works in much the same way. Instead of travel details, you share things such as family size, preventative care needs, and preferred budget. The marketplace then provides you with a comparison chart, allowing you to compare plan options and prices all in one place. Using the Healthcare Marketplace also benefits consumers because it requires that all insurance providers comply with current laws, including the Patient Bill of Rights.
Review Last Year’s Benefits
Choosing insurance involves evaluating last year’s health needs and anticipating this year’s. While it can be difficult to know what lies ahead in 2015 for your family’s health, you can definitely learn from 2014. Before entering the Marketplace, create a review of last year’s anticipated and unanticipated health care costs, including:
- Doctor’s visit co-pays
- Prescription costs
- Out-of-pocket costs and maximums
- Monthly premiums
- Coverage of special services, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and eye care.
For example, a few years ago, my family opted for a low monthly premium and high out of pocket maximum plan. While this plan would have benefited my husband alone, it proved costly for our family as a whole. Unexpected surgeries had us reaching both my individual and our family’s collective out of pocket maximums. I had insurance, but ended up spending hours contacting health care providers to set up payment plans for our portion of bills for doctor’s visits, tests, and procedures. I now know to weigh the potential costs of a major health event while shopping for insurance.
What Am I Comparing?
United Healthcare offers a series of short videos (generally just over one minute long) that helped answer my questions about the Healthcare Marketplace. I found the Shopping for Healthcare, along with Choosing a Health Plan very informative and even engaging.
- Out-of-Pocket Maximum
If you’re like me, these terms could use some clarification. After all, insurance enrollment only comes around once a year, unless you experience a major life event. United Healthcare offers this quick glossary video to put healthcare terminology in laymen’s (or women’s) terms.
Three Main Questions
While there is much to consider when choosing a health plan, you want to be certain to ask three main questions of each option.
- Is my current doctor in the plan’s network? If you have a good relationship with your health care provider or one comes highly recommended, check to see if they are covered.
- What does the plan cover? This includes checking to see what coverage is available for things like special services, such as mental health care and physical therapy, as well as prescriptions.
- How much does it cost? Be sure to consider ALL of the costs with a plan. As my experience shows, the lowest monthly premium does not always equal the lowest overall cost. Also, remember to consider the benefits of a Flexible Spending or Health Savings plan, if available.
You don’t need an advanced degree to choose health insurance, just time and patience. Ready to get started? United Healthcare has the resources you need to help you navigate the Healthcare Marketplace.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I received compensation. All opinions included are my own.