What Is Open Enrollment? And Why Should You Pay Attention?

It’s autumn. The leaves are turning, stores are (already) putting out Christmas decorations, and it’s open enrollment time at many companies.

Open enrollment is a yearly rite for companies and their health insurance plans. This is because American consumers don’t get the chance to switch up their coverage very often. Once a year, you review your health plan and, if you want to make a change, you are allowed to.

Paying attention at open enrollment time can set the tone for your entire year as far as health insurance is concerned. It’s vital that you pay attention to what is happening, and use open enrollment as a time to get the most out of your health care.

Check Your Health Coverage

One of the most important things you should do at open enrollment time is to check your health care coverage. First of all, you need to find out if your plan is changing. Many health insurance companies have been switching up their offerings. This could mean a lower coverage amount, a higher deductible, or a change in what is actually covered. If you aren’t paying attention, you could be switched to the plan that is the “closest” to what you have — but it may not be exactly the same thing.

Watch for new terms in your health care coverage, and pay attention to what is coming. You might need to choose a new plan that fits your family’s health care needs better. Even if the plan isn’t changing, you should still consider your family’s coverage. When was the last time you looked at your benefits schedule? Is your coverage really meeting your needs? If it isn’t, open enrollment is a good time to change things up so that your health insurance coverage matches your needs.

Find Ways to Save Money on Health Care

Chances are that your new plan is going to cost more. That’s just the way health insurance is — no matter how healthy you try to be. Look at your costs, and consider ways you can tweak your health insurance plan so that it doesn’t cost quite so much. Some of the changes you can make during open enrollment to reduce your health plan costs include:

  • Raise the deductible: The more you pay out of pocket, the less you pay in monthly premiums. If you don’t have a lot of health care costs, this can be a way to reduce what you owe.
  • Reduce the coverage: Maybe you have coverage you don’t need. The less you require, the lower your cost. Just make sure that your coverage is still adequate.
  • Exclude prescriptions: If you don’t have a lot of expensive prescriptions, you can save money by excluding them from your plan. Pay for prescriptions out of your pocket, and you can see a lower health insurance premium. There are a number of prescription drug programs that you can join to help take some of the costs down.
  • Look elsewhere for coverage: Compare your available company health plan with other plans. Perhaps your partner has a less expensive plan that would work better for your family. You might even be able to find an individual or group plan that better fits your needs.
Pay attention to your health insurance options this time of year. Compare available plans, and look for ways to cut costs. Once you identify what you can do to improve your health care situation, use open enrollment to get the plan that best suits your circumstances.

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