Open Enrollment

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative 

Open enrollment season is here, when more than 18.3 million people in California and millions of Americans across the country will select or switch their health insurance plan for 2020.  Here are some tips that may help lead you to better health and cost savings.

1. Know your open enrollment dates: For the more than 178 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many employers set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year. For the more than 64 million people enrolled in Medicare, Medicare Annual Enrollment runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

For most people, changes made during this time will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

2. Understand your options: When it comes to selecting a plan, one size does not fit all. Take the time to understand your options so you can find what will work best for you. A good first step is to make sure you understand health insurance lingo, such as premium, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. If you need a refresher, check out UnitedHealth Group’s “Just Plain Clear” glossary at If you’re eligible for Medicare, make sure you’re familiar with the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

3. Anticipate next year’s health expenses: When reviewing options, plan ahead. Maybe you are expecting a significant health event next year, such as a surgery or having a baby. If so, then it’s even more important to compare the “total cost” of your plan, not just your monthly premium.

4. Check to make sure your medications are covered: Even if you don’t expect to change plans, make sure your prescription drugs will still be covered next year. Costs can change, and how much you pay for generics vs. brands may differ among plans.

5. Ask about well-being programs: Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthy actions: completing a health survey, walking, going to the gym or not using nicotine. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost.

6. Don’t forget specialty benefits: Additional benefits — dental, vision, hearing, disability, critical illness insurance — are often cost-effective coverage options. For Medicare beneficiaries, some may be surprised Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services, but many Medicare Advantage plans do.

7. Try virtual visits: If you are busy juggling kids’ schedules, work, travel, or you simply prefer to connect with a doctor from home, consider a plan that includes virtual visits. It may be a convenient, lower-cost way to talk to a doctor. Often, telehealth is available to members of employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans.

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