Taking advantage of open enrollment: What you need to know

Your open enrollment period is the time to re-evaluate your health needs and select the plan that’s right for you. This year, make sure you choose a plan that includes Keck Medicine of USC experts and top-ranked hospitals. Our nationally renowned team will help you stay healthy throughout the year – but now is the time to make sure we’re in your network. To get started, see which plans we’re in.

Today, we’re answering some of the most common questions we hear:

I’m healthy. Why do I need insurance, anyway?

Insurance helps protect you against the unexpected. Even if you’re healthy, life happens. A surprise health issue — a broken bone, a bad burn, a serious illness — can generate thousands of dollars in bills. When you pay a monthly insurance premium, your insurance picks up the cost of preventive care, plus a share of larger, unexpected expenses.

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I can just get insurance when one of those things happens, right?

You can typically sign up for health insurance in two situations: when you have a “life event” (like a job change, a new marital status or the birth of a child) or during an annual “open enrollment” period, typically at the end of the year. Open enrollment lets you pick a plan to take effect in January. If you have insurance through your job, check with your HR department to confirm your open enrollment period.

I already have insurance. Do I need to do anything?

Insurance plans can change drastically from year to year. Open enrollment is your chance to review your options and select the plan that best fits your current needs with the right amount of coverage, while making sure your preferred providers are included. You can also decide your best options for dental, vision and other types of insurance.

What should I take into consideration?

Look at how much you spent for health care last year. Consider whether you take any prescriptions, how many times you visited the doctor or if you’re managing a chronic illness. If you’re contemplating an elective surgery, having a baby or know that your health needs may change, now is the time to carefully review your options.

Make sure that your preferred doctors and hospitals are covered by your plan. Choose a plan that includes hospitals that earn an “A” rating for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group, for example.

Finally, consider your fees – premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, co-insurance – so you understand the true cost of each plan. Healthcare.gov offers a glossary that helpfully explains these terms. You may be eligible for a subsidy, depending on your income.

What should I do next?

If you get insurance through your employer, find out your open enrollment options. If you purchase insurance on the health care exchange, visit Covered California to learn more about the plans offered in California, or healthcare.gov for the rest of the country. Then see which plans include Keck Medicine of USC physicians and hospitals, and select the one that’s best for your needs.