7 tips for choosing your health benefits
As inflation in the U.S. remains high, you may be looking to adjust your lifestyle and spending habits. But when it comes to health care, it’s important to keep your budget and well-being in mind.
This year’s open enrollment season is a good chance to review how you’re using health services and decide whether you’ll stick with the plan you’ve got or switch to another being offered. It’s also an opportunity to assess your overall care costs to help ensure you choose a plan that will work best for next year’s budget.
Enrollment timing: For people with coverage from their employer, open enrollment typically happens during a two- or three-week period between September and December. For those eligible for Medicare, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from Oct. 15- Dec. 7 each year. Coverage selections made during the fall will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
Choosing the right health plan for you
Here are seven tips to consider when choosing a plan that may help lead you to better health and cost savings:
1. First, consider all your options
Take time to understand and compare the benefits, services and costs of each plan available to you, so you can figure out which will be the best fit. Pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You also should understand what out-of-pocket costs, including the deductible, copays and coinsurance, you may be responsible for.
2. Learn the language
If you’re overwhelmed by or unsure about certain health care terms, there are resources to help. As a start, check out UnitedHealth Group’s Just Plain Clear Glossary (in English, Spanish and Portuguese) to help you make informed decisions.
3. Help prevent financial surprises
Visiting doctors that are in-network is one way to help keep your costs lower. So before selecting a plan, check to see if your doctor is in your health plan’s provider network. Also, make sure your medications will be covered by the plan you choose next year – even if you don’t expect to change plans. Look into filling your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery by mail — two more potentially money-saving options.
4. Check for mental health coverage
In addition to in-person mental health care, you may have access to a large virtual network of therapists and psychiatrists. Some health insurers also offer advocacy services to help you find the right type of behavioral health care.
5. Don't forget about specialty benefits
Additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing or critical illness insurance, are often available and may contribute to overall well-being.
6. Look into wellness programs
Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine.
7. Explore virtual care services
If you’re busy or just prefer connecting with a doctor from the convenience of your home, consider choosing a plan that includes 24/7 virtual care. You may have access to virtual wellness visits, urgent care and chronic condition management.
For more helpful articles and videos about open enrollment, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.