7 Tips for Choosing Health Benefits 2023

NEW ORLEANS – Annual or open enrollment season has arrived – a time when more than 4.5 million people in Louisiana and millions of Americans across the country will have the opportunity to select or switch insurance plans illness for the coming year.

Open enrollment is a good opportunity to review how often you use health services and decide whether to stick with the plan you have or switch to another offered to you. It’s also a chance to assess your overall care costs to make sure you’re choosing a plan that will work best for next year’s budget.

Enrollment schedule: For those covered by their employer, open enrollment typically takes place for two weeks between September and December. Medicare members can enroll or make changes to coverage from October 15 through December 7. Most selections made will take effect on January 1, 2023.

Here are seven tips to help you choose a health plan through work, exchange or health insurance:

Christine O’Brien

Consider all your options. Take the time to understand and compare the benefits, services, and costs of each plan to determine which is right for you. A good first step can be to brush up on health insurance jargon, including premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and reimbursable maximums. Medicare members: When weighing your options, make sure you understand the difference between Medicare Original and Medicare Advantage. If you need advice, visit MedicareEducation.com – an online resource with answers to questions about eligibility, plan choices, basic costs, prescription coverage and more.

Check your prescription benefits. Knowing how to get the most out of your prescription benefits can help you manage costs. For example, check discounts and lower-cost alternatives, including generics, that may be available. You may also be able to have your prescriptions filled at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery by mail, two other money-saving options. Medicare members: You may be surprised to learn that Original Medicare generally does not cover prescription drugs. Consider adding Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to help control your drug costs.

Check mental health coverage. In addition to in-person mental health care, you can access an extensive virtual network of therapists and psychiatrists. Some health insurers also offer advocacy services to help you find the right kind of behavioral health care. Medicare members: Some plans offer virtual mental health care with a $0 copay, including UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage.

Don’t forget the special perks. Additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing or critical illness insurance, are often available and can contribute to overall well-being. Medicare members: You might be surprised that Original Medicare doesn’t cover most dental, vision, and hearing services, but many Medicare Advantage plans do.

Ask about wellness programs. Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as taking a health survey, exercising, or avoiding nicotine. Medicare members: Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost.

Anticipate next year’s healthcare spending. If you are expecting a major health event in the next year, such as surgery or the birth of a child, compare the differences in plan design for that specific situation, including out-of-pocket expenses.

Consider a plan with virtual care services. If you’re busy or just prefer connecting with a doctor from the comfort of your home, consider choosing a plan that includes 24/7 virtual care. You can get access to virtual wellness visits, emergency care, and chronic disease management. Medicare members: Most Medicare Advantage plans provide access to virtual care, which can be an easier and more affordable way to speak with doctors about common health issues on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Christine O’Brien is the Executive Director of UnitedHealthcare

About Evelyn C. Heim

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