Open Enrollment Is Now: Selecting the Best Plan for your Needs

Comparing health care plans can be confusing and stressful. Use these tips to ensure that you’re choosing coverage that’s right for your budget and health care needs.

Open enrollment for health care selections is upon us. Choosing the right insurance for you and your family is an important one, and it is worth investing the time to do some research into your options. 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 unneeded coverage.

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

Sometimes you know in advance if you’ll need more coverage. You can save money by planning ahead and purchasing a plan that covers your future needs. If you have a chronic condition that requires routine doctors’ visits, factor that into your expected expenses. Plans with higher deductibles generally require lower monthly payments, but plan holders ultimately spend more money out-of-pocket meeting the deductibles if they experience unexpected health care needs. Plans with lower deductibles are more expensive on a cost-per-month basis, but deductibles are satisfied at a lower dollar amount.

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 making changes to your health insurance plan, 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 conveniently located? Will new plans you’re considering change whether or not you need referrals from primary care physicians to visit specialists? Do you have online access to your claims and medical information? Consider the current amenities your plan provides 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 if those are important features to you.

The value of an academic medical center.

You may be satisfied with your current physicians. But what happens if you or your loved one requires more complex care?

While planning ahead for our health is great in theory, we can’t 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, requiring pre-authorizations and in some cases, traveling long distances in between providers’ offices.

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 by a comprehensive health care system.

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 who collaborate to meet patients’ needs all within one health care system.

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 County, we have you covered with care close to home.

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

If you are an employee of USC, open enrollment takes place through Monday, November 12. Log into Workday at employees.usc.edu to make your selections.

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 https://www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.

By Heidi Tyline King