6 Simple Tips to Help You Pick Your Best Health Plan Before Open Enrollment Closes This Year

I partnered with UnitedHealthCare on a knowledge campaign to spread awareness about ObamaCare and the importance of getting you and your family insured. As a community that has been traditionally exploited or underserved by health care system, I am super stoked to be part of a movement to raise awareness about what the Affordable Care Act is and isn’t. Click here to see my first post.  This is a sponsored campaign.



During our first year of marriage, my husband and I spent a lot of time in the emergency room. I had to be rushed to the ER on four separate occasions because of a recurring infection that I had, which ultimately required elective surgery.

My husband, on the other hand—trying to relive his youth on the weekends by playing aggressive soccer— torn something and bruised something else—and, of course, was walking on crutches for a few weeks and mandated to attend physical therapy.

Once our lives settled back into its regular rhythm of health, work, and home and the bills for our surgeries and visits to the emergency room came, it dawned on the both of us that we had decent health coverage.

We were able to get treated for my illness and his tomfoolery injuries without having to choose our financial health over our physical well being.

For many of us that continue to live without adequate health insurance, the cost of one major surgery can lead to personal bankruptcy. Now is the time for you to shop around to find a health care plan that will work for you and your family.

Open enrollment closes on February 15th, so you should start making some serious moves and decisions in the next few weeks to ensure that you are making the most informed decision about

Here are six tips to get you prepared to make the most informed decision.

Understand the personal power you have during open enrollment. Open enrollment is when all members of your group health insurance plan have the opportunity to enroll in certain benefit programs, or make a change in their employer benefits. In concrete terms that may mean if your company is like most others, it may offer multiple offers for health insurance. This is when you need to choose your coverage for the next year. Some companies call this period annual enrollment or benefits enrollment.

Know where you can get the free money. This link to the United Health Care website will help you figure out if you are eligible for any tax credits or subsidies. Once on the site, all you have to enter is your zip code, age, and income to find out what you’re entitled to.

Know what to look when reviewing your SBCs. During open enrollment. you’re going to be looking at some Summary of Benefits Coverage. (SBCs). Now, these documents are mandated by federal law and they help you compare different plans. As you look through the SBCs, pay close attention to what’s covered and what’s not covered and evaluate each plan based on your health and what you want to pay.

 Think twice before you pick the cheapest coverage. I know that pennies are hard to come by and I know that price is definitely a key factor in the health care plan that you chose, but don’t let it be the only one. Keep in mind that the lowest premium isn’t always the best overall value.

Run the numbers to pick the coverage that best meets your needs. First, calculate your healthcare costs from recent years. Then, try to estimate what costs might be for the coming year and don’t forget to estimate the cost of doctors visits, daily medications and any procedures you might be planning.

Educate yourself on the terms that they use. I know picking health care is not one of my favorite things to do, partly because it is intimidating and partly because I illogical feel that I am going to be healthy and young forever. Overcoming magical thinking isn’t the easiest thing to do but lowering the anxiety that I feel when I read over plans is much more manageable when I first set out to understand the basics of the industry and what my plan does and doesn’t offer. Here are a few words that you need to know:

Formulary is a list of generic and brand name prescribed medications covered by your health plan; health plans will often choose formulary drugs that are just as safe and effective as the alternatives but cost less

Out-of-pocket maximum: It’s the annual limit you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for everything during your plan year except your monthly premium.

Frugal Feministas–So what say you? What other tips could you add to this list?

If this post inspires you to get your finances in order, don’t let the work stop here.  Consider enrolling in one of my online courses. I have one on budgeting and one on saving.

[info_box type=”alert_box”]If you want to practice self-care, you have to care for your finances.  My book, The Happy Finances Challenge, is designed to help you learn to make money decisions that will lead to long-term financial happiness in just 42 days. [/info_box]

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