Believe it or not, it’s almost that time of year again. On October 15, this year’s Open Enrollment season will begin for families and individuals. During this time, you can enroll in a new healthcare plan or make changes to your existing one, which means you should start evaluating your current plan now, and thinking about other options.
Unfortunately, many people wait until the last minute to make a decision, and that procrastination can lead them to make one of the following mistakes…
Errors in calculation. Few people take the time to calculate last year’s spending, and anticipate next year’s needs. But how can you choose a plan that best suits your needs, if you aren’t sure what those needs are? You might feel tempted to choose the plan that seems like the “best deal”, but without careful calculation it’s nearly impossible to know what the best deal actually is. A plan that saves one family money might be a terrible decision for another family with very different needs.
Going for the lowest premium. Your premiums aren’t the only portion of healthcare costs that you will pay. You will also owe co-pays and co-insurance, depending upon the type of doctor visit or procedure, and these can apply even after you’ve reached your deductible. Each healthcare plan does set an out-of-pocket maximum, and once you reach that spending limit the plan will cover 100 percent of your costs. But for low-premium plans, those maximums are usually quite high.
The bottom line: If you didn’t meet your deductible last year, and probably won’t next year, you might be in good shape to stick with a low-premium plan. Of course, you might also benefit from adding options such as a Health Savings Account, which allows you to save before-tax money to be used toward healthcare expenses.
On the other hand, if you quickly met your deductible last year, then you should at least investigate higher-premium, lower-deductible plans. One of them might actually save you money in the long run. It’s worth investigating.
Failing to investigate the network. Health insurance plans can vary wildly, with regard to their network offerings. Some only cover in-network doctors and facilities, while others provide at least partial reimbursement for out-of-network services. Investigate whether your preferred doctors and facilities are within the plan’s network, and if not, what coverage would be offered in the event you needed a specialist or sought treatment at an out-of-network hospital.
Automatic re-enrollment. The biggest Open Enrollment mistake is also the simplest to make. You run out of time, or you feel overwhelmed with options, so you do nothing and allow your plan to automatically renew. From 2015 to 2016, about 60 percent of enrollees stayed in the same plan, even though an analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services found that 8 in 10 could have enjoyed a plan with the same coverage for a lower premium! In other words, if you don’t at least investigate your options, you might be costing yourself a considerable amount of money.
Remember, Open Enrollment lasts from October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019, so time is of the essence. Give us a call if you need help analyzing different health insurance plans. We can help you calculate your needs and identify the plan that best suits your priorities and budget.