health insurance open enrollment

Open Enrollment: What to Look for in Health Insurance


9 October,2012

Now that the year is drawing to a close, it’s time to consider your health plan, and decide what steps you can take to choose a health insurance plan that works for you. It’s open enrollment time; the only time you can make changes to your health care plan.

Every time open enrollment comes around, it’s a good idea to review your health care plan, and make changes that fit your needs. Health insurance is one of those insurance policies you need, and you need to make sure you are adequately covered.

Check Your Health Insurance Coverage

Your first step is to check your coverage. Do you have adequate coverage? Perhaps you have too much coverage. A friend of mine was surprised to realize that, even after she could no longer have children, she was still paying for maternity coverage. There might be some other coverages that you aren’t interested in having, but that you are paying for.

On the flip side, you might find a plan that covers something you think that you might need, and want to make a switch. Honestly evaluate your health care needs, and then determine whether your current health insurance is doing a good job meeting your requirements. If it isn’t, and you have access to better options, consider changing your health plan to something that matches your needs.

Adjust Your Health Plan Deductible

In some cases, all you need to do is adjust your deductible. If you have a lot of health care needs, and it is hard to pay out of pocket all at once when a problem comes up, but you could handle a higher monthly premium, consider reducing your deductible.

On the other hand, you might prefer to have a lower premium each month. You can save money each month by boosting your health insurance deductible. The more you pay out of pocket, the lower your premiums are. However, you need to be careful. Make sure you have an emergency fund that can handle your higher out of pocket expenses. I have a health plan that requires me to pay all of my prescription costs out of pocket, as well as pay a high deductible. However, my family has few health needs, so the out of pocket expenses are very manageable.

If appropriate, you can consider opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) so that you can save money for health expenses. An HSA contribution is tax deductible, so you can save on your taxes as well as build up a solid fund to draw on when you need to pay out of pocket expenses. However, you have to agree to a high deductible plan if you want an HSA. This means that you need to carefully consider your situation, and whether you can handle the higher deductible.

No matter your situation, it’s a good idea to consider your health plan at open enrollment. Don’t just sign off on the same thing year after year. Take some thought to your health care needs, and try to choose a health insurance plan that most closely resembles your health requirements.