November 1st until December 15th is the open enrollment period this year. If your employer doesn’t cover your health insurance, you have until December 15th to choose a healthcare plan for 2018. Sign up at HealthCare.gov! I’m dedicating my November blog posts to all things healthcare and health insurance, because I believe everyone should have health insurance, and I want everyone to make informed decisions. Check out last week’s post about open enrollment, and stay tuned for the rest of the month!
November 1st until December 15th is the open enrollment period this year. You have until December 15th to choose a healthcare plan for 2018.
This week, I want to talk about the priorities for your health insurance plan. It’s so important that you get a plan that works for you. So here are a few things that I think you should consider when choosing your plan for 2018.
High deductible insurance plans usually cost much less out of pocket up front. But they also require you to spend upwards of $1,500 to $6,000 a year before your insurance coverage really kicks in. This can be totally fine if you’re someone who doesn’t get sick often, and don’t have to manage any health conditions. However, you never really know when you might be in an accident or fall ill, so I typically advise people to use caution when choosing a high-deductible plan. If you don’t have thousands of dollars in savings, and something happens to you, you might have a hard time covering your deductible.
Something that matters to me quite a bit is the co-pay cost for things like doctors appointments. Health insurance isn’t very useful if you can’t afford the cost of going to the doctor in the first place. The co-pay for a doctor visit can range from about $15 to $50, but urgent care and emergency room visits can be much more expensive, ranging from $75 to $300 depending on your plan. If you know you have to go to the doctor often, your co-pay amount will matter to you more than other things might. Typically, the co-pay amounts will be lower if you pay a higher monthly premium. That means the high-deductible plans will also have higher co-pays. Weigh your needs with your budget and decide what works best for you.
Do you rely on medication to manage your health and any conditions? You’ll want to make sure your insurance plan has good prescription coverage. Prescription co-pays can vary wildly. Some things, like birth control, have no co-pay at all (for now). Others can range from $5 to hundreds of dollars. The type of medication matters; if you need a medication that does not have a generic option, find out how much brand name prescriptions will cost you.
Mental health coverage
Unfortunately, mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health yet in our society. Of course, both are equally important. You shouldn’t have to worry about being able to afford your therapist, psychiatrist, or medication when you have health insurance. (Obviously, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording these services no matter what, but we aren’t there yet in the U.S.) Find out what kind of mental health coverage your potential plan offers. If you know you’ll need these services, make sure you choose a plan that has affordable co-pays and (preferably) no cap on how many appointments you can have in a year.
Do you have a partner or children who need health insurance? Consider their medical needs when choosing a plan. Find out how much it costs to add a dependent or entire family. From there, find out what is covered for them. On my fiance’s old insurance plan, it would have cost almost $300 a month just to add me to his plan. Without me, he only had to pay about $15 a month out of pocket for the premium. Talk about an increase! Would a cost like that put you over budget? Find out how much you would have to pay for dependents. You should also find out if they would get good coverage based on their health needs.
Health savings account
This option is especially important if you have high medical expenses during the year, if you have dependents, and if you’re planning to have an expensive procedure soon. A health savings account (also known as an HSA) can only be used if you are on a high-deductible insurance plan. With an HSA, you can deduct money pre-tax and have it automatically put into a savings account for you. This helps you in two ways: your overall taxable income is lower (so you get taxed less), and you have money to cover medical costs without having to think about it. This money can be used to cover the high deductible that you must meet. You should definitely take advantage of this account if you choose a high-deductible plan.
What do you look for when choosing a health insurance plan? Do you feel equipped to make the right decision this year? Share in the comments!
Don’t forget to sign up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov if you don’t have an employer-provided plan!
Want to see what health insurance plan is right for you? Check out Take Command Health to see your options and ensure you’re making the right choice! They are passionate about helping people save money and get the best insurance coverage they can get.
(Note: I will receive a commission if you sign up using my links. This in no way alters my opinion of the product; I only recommend things I truly believe in.)
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.