3 tips for choosing your health insurance plan through work
Are you trying to choose a health insurance plan offered through your employer? Choosing a health plan for the year ahead is an important decision. And if it's open enrollment time at your company, it's your time to explore the available health plan options before you enroll.
You can use this checklist and watch our open enrollment video series to help you weigh the options and decide which health plan may be best for you. Let's get started.
1. Check to see which providers are in network
Finding a doctor or clinic that is in network may help keep costs lower. In fact, many plans will only cover network providers. When you're reviewing your health plan options, consider taking these steps:
- Check to see if your primary doctor, provider or clinic is in network for the plan you are considering
- Check to see if your mental health providers, dentists and specialty providers are in network
- Find out if there is partial coverage for out-of-network providers
Knowing which providers are in network may help you narrow your choices for health plans. For example, if you have a specific doctor you prefer to see, you'll likely want to be sure they're in network for the plan you choose. If you're considering a UnitedHealthcare plan, you can search for network providers and clinics using our provider search tool.
2. Consider your health care needs
From year to year, your coverage needs may change. Maybe you have different medication needs or a procedure planned for the upcoming year. Before you enroll in a plan, think about the care you or your family may need in the year ahead. Here are some factors to consider as you're making your decision.
If mostly for minor care needs:
You may need less coverage if you see the doctor occasionally for your annual checkup, minor illness or injury. To save money, you might choose the less expensive plan where you pay less in premiums in exchange for less coverage.
If mostly for major or frequent care needs:
You may need more coverage if you’re planning for a major procedure, seeing the doctor often or take specialty medications. To save money overall, this typically means paying more in premiums in exchange for more coverage from your plan. These plans usually have a lower deductible and out-of-pocket limit so that your plan can help you share costs faster.
Research what your care needs could cost on average, and consider choosing a plan with a lower deductible and out-of-pocket limit so that your plan can help you share costs faster.
Whether you’re taking regular prescriptions or specialty medications, what they cost varies based on each plan. Check to see if the plan covers generic and brand name versions of the medication. Also make sure you receive your medications from a pharmacy that’s in network, otherwise they may not be covered or you may pay more.
Generally, the more people you have on your health plan, the more coverage you may want. Consider the needs of all family members covered by your plan.
3. Decide how you prefer to manage your costs
You can make choices about how you pay for your care too. Check to see if the plan you're considering works with the way you like to manage your budget. Some people prefer to keep their monthly premium payments low. Others may choose to pay higher monthly premiums so they may pay less for copays when they need care.
Lower premium plans
If you don’t have any major care needs, you can save money by finding a plan that charges a lower premium each month. This means the plan will take less money out of your paychecks to pay for insurance. Compare your plan options to see which plan’s premium amount requires you to pay the least.
Lower copay plans
Some plans may give you the option to spend less money when you pay for care services, like when you visit the doctor. Consider the cost of payments like copays when you visit a doctor, clinic or urgent care. You can also compare the deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket limit for each plan. That way, you can see which plans may help you save more. Researching these costs and understanding how you and your plan share costs together also helps you avoid cost surprises later.