Comparing health care plans is overly complicated, time consuming and it can be very confusing. Take the time to ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re not overpaying or under insured.

‘Tis the season for evaluating your current health care plan, but choosing the right insurance for you and your family is a decision that requires more than checking off a few boxes. The following questions will help you determine your health care needs so that you can make a thoughtful decision.

How much do you spend currently on health care?

How much did you spend on health care in the last year? In the last five years? Be sure to include outpatient procedures, hospital stays, vision services, doctor visits and other health care costs in your tally. (Tip: Some health care providers provide online access to your records.)

Unless there are unanticipated health events, your health care expenditures shouldn’t fluctuate wildly from year to year. Knowing how much you have spent in the past will keep you from underinsuring yourself and your family or paying for coverage you don’t need.

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Are you sick, or do you anticipate costly health events like knee surgery or having a baby?

Sometimes you know if you’ll need more coverage. You can save money by planning ahead and purchasing a plan that covers your future needs. The same goes if you have a chronic condition that requires routine doctors’ visits. Plans with higher deductibles are generally more affordable, but you’re out-of-pocket more money up front. Plans with lower deductibles are more expensive but it takes less money to reach the deductibles. There are several online health calculators to help you estimate your needs.

Are you willing to change doctors?

There’s nothing worse than changing plans only to discover that you can no longer see your favorite doctor. Before switching you need to double-check the list of physicians that are covered under each plan — especially if you have an established rapport with a physician or specialist.

Have you read the fine print?

Does your new plan provide doctors who are convenient? Do you have online access to your claims and medical information? Consider the current amenities your plan provides (or not) and shop accordingly.

Likewise, if your prior plan covered special treatments like massage and acupuncture, make sure the same is true for your new plan.

The value of an academic medical center.

You may be happy with going to your current clinic to see your physician. But what happens if you or your loved one requires more complex care?

While planning ahead for our health is great in theory — we all know that we can’t always predict the future. A simple injury could require surgery and physical therapy. A chest pain could turn out to be more than just indigestion. And what happens if that routine screening is suddenly the beginning of a medical mile? In some plans, you can be bounced from provider to provider, sending you off on a journey to see multiple health care providers.

We all hope that these are things we never have to face, but in the stressful event you or a loved one does need to see several providers of specialists — it’s best to know you’re covered.

If your insurance provider allows you to go to an academic medical center like Keck Medicine of USC, you are able to see the most renowned physicians all in one place, who are able to cater to your every need.

Between Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris Cancer Hospital, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and more than 40 outpatient facilities and affiliated hospital locations throughout Los Angeles — we have you covered at a variety of locations.

U.S. News and World Report ranks Keck Medicine of USC as one of the nation’s best hospitals in five specialties.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

If you are unhappy with your current insurance plan, consider switching. Before you do, check out this list of insurance plans that Keck Medicine of USC accepts.

More than a hospital, Keck Medicine of USC is an academic medical center with world-renowned experts in a variety of specializations who can treat one or all of your medical issues at once. If you are in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting

By Heidi Tyline King