As a mom of many, we had our five youngest children in seven years. This not only meant a lot of trips to the hospital to welcome a new family member, but it also meant countless trips to the doctor for checkups, aches and pains, and even an occasional accident. We couldn’t afford to be without health insurance.
Now that my kids are young adults, they still need their own health insurance and need to navigate the options, which can be confusing in the current healthcare system. But with open enrollment season upon us, now is the time when you can pick a new health insurance plan, and it’s time to make that topic part of your family meetings so you can be prepared for the New Year. Here are some areas to consider as you make these critical decisions:
Financial Impact: We raised four rowdy, active sons, and while they turned out to be great young adults, making it through their childhood was not incident free. We discovered one broken leg can cost $7,500 or more. Since most American families don’t have that amount of money saved in the bank, this one incident could wipe them out financially. So the main question isn’t just, “How much will insurance cost me?” but it’s also, “How much will not having insurance cost me?”
Freedom of Choice: During open enrollment, now is the time you will need to choose, and there are a number of things to consider in this decision making process. Whether you are purchasing your own plan, have options provided by an employer, or are eligible for Medicare, there are a lot of factors involved. First of all, take an honest look at your budget and at the insurance plan’s premium, deductible and out of pocket expenses.
This is a good time to think about what you expect the next 12 months to hold for you and your family. Ask yourself the following questions so you can make a better choice:
- What is coming up? Are there big expenses coming up like childbirth or knee replacement surgery? If so, you might want to invest in a plan with a lower deductible.
- What are my out of pocket expenses? When you visit your doctor, the amount you are responsible for paying is considered your co-payment. If you have imaging tests, like an MRI, you may have to pay a percent of those costs, which is called co-insurance. Again, if you think you’re going to visit the doctor a lot next year, these are things to consider.
- What medications will we need? In addition to visiting the doctor, you should think about what kind of medication you and your family need. There are typically co-pays and separate deductibles for prescription drugs. If you’re already taking medication to maintain your cholesterol or blood pressure, you might want to check to see if there are ways to save money, like taking advantage of mail order pharmacy programs.
Future Options on My Plan: The main choice you have during open enrollment is which plan you will choose, but once you’ve selected a plan, make sure you’re visiting doctors and hospitals that are in your network. The network is made up of the doctors contracted with your insurance company to provide care for you. If you go out of that network, you will typically have to pay more. In some cases, you may sometimes have to cover the entire bill depending on what kind of plan you have. Because of that, it’s critical you stick with the plan you’ve chosen, or it could ruin your family’s finances.
Final Financial Considerations: When you are looking at this significant expenditure, it’s important to consider a number of factors and compare plans while understanding your options. You may want to go through this list to make sure you’ve considered everything in order to make an informed decision:
- I have partnered with other resources available to help you better understand your options. Health insurers such as Anthem, Application Assistors, Navigators, and brokers in your local communities are available to help you navigate your options during open enrollment season and find a plan that is a good fit for you. For more info go to Anthem or gov
- Are you about to turn 65 and will be eligible for Medicare? If so, you will have new options to consider.
- Are your kids under age 26 and unemployed or don’t have a great plan through their employer? They can remain on your plan until they turn 26.
- If you’re buying insurance on your own, you may qualify for financial help to pay for your monthly premium.
No matter what you decide, if you’ve followed the outline in this article, then you will be far less likely to have confusion and doubt when you are set up in your new healthcare plan and can no longer make decisions until next year’s open enrollment. As I tell my young adult children, the only failure when it comes to your finances is to do nothing at all and thereby lose out on an opportunity to improve your family’s financial future. I’m grateful Anthem has provided this information in our partnership so I can spread the word to American families as they navigate the sometimes confusing road to financial wellness in regards to healthcare options.