Health insurance is unavoidable for many under the Affordable Care Act. It can be scary and stressful each year during open enrollment. Most people aren’t sure what coverage they had last year, what’s new for the current year, and how they can get the most out of the available options. It’s easy to fall into the funk of checking the same boxes year after year. It’s easy, but it’s even easier to sit down and research your benefit options.
Aflac recently shared some startling numbers when it comes to open enrollment. It’s alarming to think that 41% of American workers spend 14 minutes or less reviewing their health care options. For a decision that costs approximately $4,565 per year (employer-sponsored) in premiums. People choosing insurance coverage need to spend more than 15 minutes to make sure they are getting the best deal for their money. Most Americans spend more time choosing a new computer or television to purchase; so, when it comes to health care, we need to look at everything thoroughly.
Thinking back to the last open enrollment period for my own health insurance. I can’t recall any of the options or all of the coverage that I chose. Admittedly, I checked the same boxes as last year because it was a comfortable decision – no extra thinking involved. With open enrollment beginning again soon, I wanted to educate myself on health insurance companies and the benefit options that each offers. Last year, I was probably 4 out of 10 people that usually make a $750 mistake when choosing coverage; it’s that costly. I’ve got a plan to make purchasing health care insurance easier:
Tips on Choosing Your Health Insurance During Open Enrollment
1. Set aside time to focus only on reviewing the benefits – Minimal distractions are key and make sure that your significant other (if being covered) is involved in the process. Everyone on the policy needs to understand what is being covered and what is considered out-of-network.
2. Familiarize yourself with the terms – Not just the terms of the agreement, but with the words themselves. Maybe you’re not sure what out-of-network means in the scope of things. Look up the words you don’t understand to help clarify the benefits. A high percentage of American (73%) responded to a recent survey that said they sometimes, rarely, or never understand their benefits policy.
3. Meet with insurance agents to ask questions – Almost always there is an insurance agent you can speak with in-person, over the phone, by email, or at your company’s annual enrollment seminar. Take advantage of these communication meetings and get your questions answered. It’s also the perfect time to run through scenarios and calculate exact costs with someone that can easily show you the breakdowns of coverage. No more guessing! Insurance companies do what you to understand your coverage contrary to popular belief.
4. Assess financial choices with the benefits package – You need to weigh the options of premiums versus the yearly deductible. Would a higher monthly premium benefit with a lower yearly deductible benefit your budget? Or, do you need to pay less per month and have a higher deductible. These choices depend on the coverage you need, health issues, unforeseen health issues, and yearly examinations. Those are only a few of the factors that you should be thinking about when selecting health insurance benefits.
Choosing your insurance provider is just as important as accessing the benefit options. In fact, it may be more important. You want to make sure that your insurance company offers the coverage you need, is available in your area, and is proactive in protecting their covered individuals. Aflac delivers coverage to more than 50 million people worldwide with a presence in all 50 states in the USA. Their focus is on recovery not financial stress. Customers can take advantage of their voluntary insurance policies. These policies supplement major medical plans and pay for unexpected costs due to illness, injury, or loss. People who take part in these types of extra policies are paid directly to help take care of food, gas, child care, or any other out-of-pocket expenses. If you didn’t read all of your options, you may not know that your insurance company has voluntary policies to help you in your times of need like Aflac.
Education is key when it comes to making big life decisions. Purchasing a health insurance plan is a huge life decision because it can be the thing that saves you financially when tragedy strikes. It might seem painful to have to flip thorough 50 pages of benefit options, but not making time to understand your policy could be costing you in the short-term and ultimately in the long-term. With Alfac, reviewing your health insurance options is time well spent.
For more information on open enrollment, please check out Aflac WorkForces Report.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.