As many people head to the polls to cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election, there is another important decision millions of Americans will make: choosing their health care coverage for 2021.
Annual or open enrollment season is here, a time when 1.3 million people in Nebraska and millions of Americans across the country will have the opportunity to select or switch their health insurance plan for the coming year.
Enrollment periods aren’t the same for everyone, so there are key dates to keep in mind depending on your situation:
n Many employers set aside a two- to three-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.
n Medicare Annual Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.
To guide you during this important time, here are some tips that may help lead you to better health and cost savings.
Tip 1: Start early, take your time and ask questions. When it comes to selecting a plan, one size does not fit all. Whether you are selecting a plan for the first time or evaluating how well your current plan is meeting your needs, take the time to understand and compare plans. A good first step is to make sure you understand health insurance lingo, such as premium, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. If you need a refresher, check out the Health Care ABCs. If you’re of Medicare age, ensure you’re familiar with the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage by checking out medicaremadeclear.com as you weigh your options.
Tip 2: Take advantage of a plan that offers telehealth visits and other resources to help you navigate health from home. An increasingly popular health care choice, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been telehealth or virtual visits, which enable people to connect 24/7 with a health care provider via a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. It’s designed to be an easier, more affordable way to talk to a doctor about common health issues. Often, telehealth is available to members of employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans.
Tip 3: Review plan benefits that can help you save money, like wellness incentives. Many health plans now offer financial incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine. Many plans, including Medicare Advantage plans, offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost.
Tip 4: Anticipate next year’s health expenses. If you are expecting a significant health event in the next year, such as a surgery or the birth of a child, you should compare the differences between plan designs, including out-of-pocket maximums.
Tip 5: Consider a plan that offers health care advocates and resources to help you make the most of your benefits. Health care can be complicated, so no one should have to go it alone. It’s important to pick a plan that will provide you with access to advocates who help you navigate the health care system, find opportunities for cost savings and improve your health care experiences.
Rob Broomfield is CEO of UnitedHealthCare of Nebraska.