It’s open enrollment season – also known as the time when many people need to pick your health plans for next year. I recently wrapped up evaluating our options and choosing our healthcare plan for next year. It was a challenge, but I think I made the right decision. I know many of you are going through the same process so I thought it would be wise to talk about how you can make the most of open enrollment to save on healthcare costs.
Know Your Benefits
Learning about your benefits can be straightforward or confusing depending on whether you use a plan offered by your company, shop the healthcare marketplace or if you have health issues that require regular treatment.
There are not only the costs of your monthly premiums to consider, but there are deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, in-network and out-of-network providers, flexible spending accounts, healthcare spending accounts and more. It’s enough to make you dizzy.
In order to get the most out of your benefits, it pays to spend time during open enrollment evaluating your options.
That’s why Cigna® created a resource, Know Your Benefits, which is designed to help you understand your benefits. They recently released a three-year study on healthcare costs that shows how learning about your health can help reduce your costs. Read more about Cigna’s study here.
Know Your Benefits Infographic:
Now that you know what your benefit options are, it’s time to consider costs. When it comes to healthcare costs, we shouldn’t just evaluate it by the dollar amount we’re spending each month. We also have to consider our own health needs and the healthcare needs of family members.
For instance, if you regularly take prescription medications or see a doctor on a routine basis for treatment, a lower-cost plan may mean spending more on each prescription and copay for your doctor’s visits.
Additionally, things come up that we don’t expect – from small issues like a bad case of poison ivy to larger and more expensive healthcare issues like heart surgery. If you know things you might already reasonably expect – surgery you’ve been putting off, a potential pregnancy in the coming year – you can plan ahead and make smarter health plan choices.
If you’re relatively healthy, you may want to consider a high deductible health plan and healthcare savings account. This offers great savings up front but also allows you to sock away medical funds for use now or in retirement.
Lower Your Spending
Health benefits should be there for us when we need them, like when we have an accident or break a bone. But we should also use our health plan effectively to reduce the overall costs associated with our health. You can help lower your overall costs by making smart healthcare choices such as:
- Managing health conditions: Do you have high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure? These can lead to significantly higher out-of-pocket costs, so learn how you can manage them to save.
- Looking for discounts: Many employers are now offering lower cost healthcare premiums for non-smokers. Others offer a discount for attending healthy living seminars or getting a yearly checkup.
- Getting routine exams: Be sure to know what your health plan covers from mammograms to yearly checkups.
- Considering in-network providers: Want to save big? Stay in-network.
- Using Urgent Care: Most healthcare companies are encouraging the use of urgent care facilities in non-emergency situations due to increasing costs (and wait times) at hospitals and ERs.
These are just a few ways you can lower your out-of-pocket costs.
Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. This article is for educational purposes only and is intended to promote consumer health. It is not intended as financial or medical advice and you should always consult a professional for financial or medical advice. All opinions are my own.