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Open Enrollment Season: 4 MUST-DO's

October 08, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Please don’t keep your health insurance on autopilot. I know it’s tempting just to ignore the annual “open enrollment” communications from your employer to review your choices, and just stick with the plan you have. That could be a costly mistake. Here are 4 reasons to spend some time reviewing your employer-provided health insurance choices:

1. Your favorite doctors may no longer be in-network. Your insurer may have dropped a particular doctor or practice as an in-network provider. Same goes for hospitals and medical facilities. The upshot: you must carefully double check whether your doctors remain in-network.  If you find a doctor is no longer in-network on your current plan, check if they are in-network on any other plans offered by your employer. If not, then it’s up to you to decide how to proceed. Make sure you understand your maximum out of pocket if you stick with that doctor/facility and use it out-of-network. Or start interviewing new doctors right now—the worst time to look for a doctor is when you’re sick. 

2. The High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with the Health Savings Account (HSA) could be a great deal. More and more employers are now offering HDHP plans.  The term “high deductible” might make you highly suspicious, but I highly recommend you check it out if your employer offers this option. As I explain here chances are your employer provides an annual contribution to the HSA savings account that accompanies the HDHPs. That contribution effectively reduces your out-of-pocket costs, because you can use money in your HSA to cover your deductibles and other medical expenses. And an HSA has triple tax benefits that are incredibly valuable.

3. A spousal shift may be wise. If you and your spouse both have access to employer-provided health insurance, you should carefully consider which plan offers the best deal for your family today. For instance, maybe your plan was better seven years ago, so your spouse has coverage through you. But have you compared your current plan to what your family could get through your spouse’s coverage? If you’ve had kids since you last picked your plan, this check is doubly important. Whose plan makes the most sense for your entire family? And if your employer is now charging an extra premium to insure a spouse who has access to a plan through their own job-this is a growing trend-I highly recommend you weigh the cost of paying that extra expense, or having your spouse switch to his or her own employer’s plan. 

4. It pays to check out the wellness screening/programs.  Many employers offer incentives to get you to agree to a health screening, or sign up for a wellness program. The incentives can range from a gift card to reducing your share of the monthly health insurance premium. 


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