Here are three do’s and two don’ts to help you get the most out of your health benefits and better understand how to use your health care dollars.
1. Do know your open enrollment dates
Open enrollment isn’t the same or at the same time for everyone, so there are key dates to keep in mind depending on your situation:
· For the more than 177 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many companies set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.
· For the more than 58 million seniors and other people enrolled in Medicare, their Open Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.
· Health insurance marketplace or individual state exchange open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.For most people, changes made to coverage during open enrollment take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
2. Do take time to review your optionsEvery person or family has unique health and budget needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to selecting a health plan. Confirm that your current coverage still meets your needs and if your benefits will change next year. If your plan options are changing, select a new plan that is a good fit for your budget, and pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
3. Do make sure your doctor is in your health plan’s provider network and be aware of different care settings
Even if you don’t make any changes to your health insurance this year, it’s still a good idea to ensure that any doctor you see regularly – or plan to visit in the coming year – is in your benefit plan’s care provider network.
Also, check if your plan includes 24/7 telehealth services for consultations on minor health issues. Often, telehealth – defined as online, or virtual, visits with a doctor over a computer, tablet or mobile phone – is available to people enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans and group Medicare Advantage plans, as well as select individual Medicare Advantage plans. Virtual visits may provide convenient and affordable access to care for minor medical issues, including allergies, bronchitis and seasonal flu.
Finally, if you experience a significant or serious medical issue go to the ER, but for non-emergency care, be aware of alternative settings. Visits to the emergency room can cost patients up to 10-times more than a visit to urgent care or other care settings, so comparing where to go for care could save $1,500 or more per treatment.
4. Don’t forget about additional benefits
Additional benefits such as dental, vision, accident or critical-illness insurance are often affordable options that can protect you and your family from head to toe. For people enrolled in Medicare, many are surprised to find that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services. But many Medicare Advantage plans do, often at a $0 monthly premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare.
5. Don’t Leave financial incentives on the table
Some health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals, or stopping smoking. Programs are designed to reward people for making healthy choices and being more engaged in improving their health.
For help navigating open enrollment, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com for articles and videos with easy-to-understand information about health benefits and health insurance terms.