Tips to navigate through open enrollment season and healthcare options

Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 4:30 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If healthcare options weren’t at the top of your mind before, after this year, they probably are now. It’s open enrollment season, which means it’s time to sift through healthcare plans.

Don’t navigate through open enrollment on autopilot. Take the time to know where your money is going and what healthcare options suit your needs. If not, you could be wasting a lot of money.

“On average, employees can pay $2,000 a year too much because we’re making the wrong choices,” said Liz Weston, a personal finance columnist for NerdWallet.

Weston says the biggest mistake you may make is aiming for the lowest possible deductible and paying the higher monthly payments. That could lead to money going down the drain.

“And sometimes, if you just do the simple math of how much more you’re paying for that low deductible, you’ll realize you’re actually paying more for the low deductible than you get back in terms of coverage,” she said.

If you’re in good health, then a high deductible and low monthly payment plan might fit you best, as long as you can afford that deductible in cash in case something happens. Plus, you can use a tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA) alongside a high deductible healthcare plan.

But if you aren’t in good health, you’ll want to consider your middle of the road or low-priced deductible plans.

“If you have any kind of health conditions or if you have children, having those high deductibles can be a real problem,” said Weston.

Look at your family’s health history and financial situation to decide on a deductible. That’s step one to finding the right plan. Step two is to think about your regular medications and specialist physicians.

“The next thing to think about is what are your medications and where are your doctors?” said the personal finance expert. “So you look at the plan that includes your medications and your doctors if that’s important to you.”

Make sure your specialist doctors are in your plan’s network. Weston says reach out to your physicians and ask ‘are you in my network?’ to see if your plan can cover it.

Weston also says don’t go without insurance, especially during a pandemic.

If you’re unemployed, explore your previous employer’s COBRA care options. This is when you pay to continue to have your previous employer’s coverage plans. While that can be convenient, it can also be very expensive.

You can also look into your Affordable Healthcare options at Medicare is also in open enrollment. Get local Medicare help here.

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