As the nationwide open enrollment period approaches, choosing the right health insurance plan can feel overwhelming. But this decision is critical for your overall health — almost as important as choosing the right provider.

This to-do list will help you navigate open enrollment with confidence, so you can find the right plan for your future care at Keck Medicine of USC.

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1. Confirm Your Network
As you compare health insurance plans, make sure their preferred networks include the Keck Medicine of USC providers you know and trust. While PPO plans may offer some coverage for out-of-network physicians, both HMO and PPO plans offer significant cost savings if you visit their preferred providers.

Even if you already have insurance, this is important to consider. Plans change frequently, and a preferred provider this year may go out of network next year. This will increase your health care costs considerably, and you may want to consider a new plan.

2. Evaluate Your Expenses
Before renewing or changing your plan, review your health-related costs from the previous year. If you expect them to increase in 2018 — because of upcoming procedures, new drug prescriptions, a pregnancy or for other reasons — re-evaluate your current plan to ensure its deductible and benefits still meet your needs.

Of course, some aspects of your future needs will remain unknown. But thinking ahead will help you ensure your plan serves you and your family better moving forward.

3. Review Your Dependents
While you evaluate your own needs, remember to account for the family members your plan will also cover. Be sure that your children have access to the providers and services they need to stay healthy, taking supplemental coverage such as vision or dental into consideration.

Keep in mind that children can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26 years old. Explore your family’s health care needs and options to determine whether a family plan that includes adult children could be more cost-effective.

4. Mark Your Calendar
While you will reap the benefits of the right plan year-round, signing up is limited to a narrow window. In general, individuals can enroll in health insurance after a major life event (such as a new job, a marriage or the birth of a child) or during the annual open enrollment period.

If you receive insurance through your job, check with your employer to confirm enrollment dates. If you purchase through the marketplace, open enrollment in the state of California begins November 1, 2017, and continues through January 31, 2018.

5. Do Your Research
The better you understand your options before open enrollment, the more prepared you will be to select the right plan. If you receive employer-sponsored insurance, explore your plan options as soon as possible. If you purchase through the exchange, visit Covered California to learn more about state-specific plans or Healthcare.gov for nationwide information. Then, discover which insurance plans cover Keck Medicine of USC physicians and hospitals.