Beginning in October through the end of the year, many companies offer an open enrollment period for their employees to re-enroll or change their health insurance plans. October 15 through December 7 is also the period during which Medicare recipients may make changes to their elections.
As this period consists of a small window of time – sometimes just a week – it’s best not to procrastinate; personal and family health situations evolve over time, as do the basic stipulations of any health plan. Reflect on how your or your family’s health needs may have changed since you first chose your health plan and ensure that the plan still meets those needs.
The general rule of thumb for choosing a health plan is that someone with children or a consistent need for healthcare services should choose a plan with a higher premium and lower co-payments, while someone who is in good health and without dependents may choose a plan with a low premium and higher co-payments.
If you’ve found that your health plan is no longer sufficient, or that you’re losing money on a plan that encompasses more than your health requires, it may be time to choose a new plan. Here’s what you should consider prior to enrolling in a plan:
- Check to see if the plan covers dependents. Some plans do not, while some only cover certain dependents, like your children, but not your step-children.
- Check to see if the plan has any pre-existing condition exclusions or prior authorization requirements. These specifics could make you or a dependent ineligible for care.
- Check that the medications you take are covered. If you take an expensive brand name medication, it will be particularly important to know what the copay on it will be.
- Check the plan’s coverage for ongoing physical therapy or mental health therapy. Some insurers do not provide adequate coverage for these services.
- Check how you’ll be covered for emergencies throughout the country and abroad. The location where your emergency takes place could impact your coverage.
- Before enrolling in a new plan, ensure that your current providers accept the new plan. Or, be prepared to switch.
If you’ve chosen a plan that requires you to switch your primary care physician, use the Vitals Doctor Finder to find a doctor who accepts your plan and meets your expectations.
Sources: healthinsurance.about.com and foxbusiness.com