Amid higher inflation, you may be looking at ways to adjust your lifestyle and spending habits. But when it comes to health care and health benefits, it’s important to keep your well-being and budget in mind.
Annual or open enrollment season is here – a time when more than 7,308,500 people in Arizona and millions of Americans across the country will have the opportunity to select or switch their health insurance plan for the coming year. Open enrollment is a good chance to review how often you’re using health services and decide whether you’ll stick with the plan you’ve got or switch to another being offered. It’s also an opportunity to assess your overall care costs to ensure you’re choosing a plan that will work best for next year’s budget.
For people with coverage from their employer, open enrollment typically happens for two weeks sometime between September and December. Medicare members can enroll or make changes to coverage from Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Most selections made will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Here are four tips to help in choosing a health plan through work, the Exchange Marketplace or Medicare:
1. Consider all your options. Take time to understand and compare the benefits, services and costs of each plan, so you can figure out which will work best for you. A good first step may be to watch a quick refresher video on health insurance lingo, including premiums, deductibles, copays, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximums. Medicare members: As you weigh your options, ensure you’re familiar with the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. If you need a review, visit MedicareEducation.com — an online resource with answers to questions about eligibility, plan choices, cost basics, prescription coverage and more.
2. Check your prescription benefits. Knowing how to get the most out of your prescription benefits may help you manage costs. For example, check into discounts and lower-cost alternatives, including generics, which may be available. You may also be able to fill your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery by mail — two more money-saving options. Medicare members: You may be surprised to learn Original Medicare doesn’t generally cover prescription drugs. Consider adding Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to help keep your medication costs in check.
3. Check for mental health coverage. In addition to in-person mental health care, you may have access to a large virtual network of therapists and psychiatrists. Some health insurers also offer advocacy services to help you find the right type of behavioral health care. Medicare members: Some plans offer virtual mental health care with a $0 copay, including UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage.
4. Look into wellness programs. Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine. Medicare members: Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost.
For more helpful articles and videos about open enrollment, visit uhcopenenrollment.com.
Authors: Heather Kane is CEO of UnitedHealthcare Arizona and George Young is CEO of Medicare & Retirement for UnitedHealthcare, Arizona.