It is that time of year again.
Nope. Not when department stores tear down the Halloween decorations and put up the Christmas ones.
Nope. Not when your kids are on an amazing sugar high from Halloween candy and you are tempted to steal a piece of candy hoping they won’t notice. (They do.)
It is a period of time, once a year, during which you and your family have the opportunity to enroll in certain benefit programs, like health insurance, vision service plans and dental plans. If you miss it, you likely will not be able to enroll until the following year (exceptions often apply for new employees or employees with life changing events, like having a baby and being able to add them to your plan during the year.)
If you are employed, check with your human resources department to see when your company’s open enrollment period begins and ends. Just because you already have health, dental or vision insurance, doesn’t mean you are set for next year. You may still need to proactively indicate your willingness to continue with your health, dental or vision plans for the following year. If you are enrolled or interested in a public insurance program, like Medicaid or Medicare, contact the respective state agency.
With so many health insurance plans and benefits available, it can seem overwhelming. Add considerations like dental and vision service plans, it can be downright stressful.
So, what do you need to know to make the right decision for you and/or your family that will last you throughout 2013? VSP Vision Care, the nation’s largest vision insurance company, has provided a few simple tips to help you clearly see (no pun intended) your open enrollment options:
(1) Read the Materials
There are many different types of medical plans: preferred provider organizations (PPO), health maintenance organizations (HMO), point of service plans (POS) or indemnity plans. To understand the differences, check out the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website. When choosing a plan, it’s important to make sure that you understand exactly what you are signing up for. For example, HMOs require you to get pre-approval every time you see a specialist, but PPO’s rarely require such pre-approval. Also, make sure your plan has extensive list of health care providers from which to choose, like dentists, opthamologists, and optometrists. It ensures choice near your home or work, and makes it easy to make and keep appointments.
(2) Compare the Costs
Sometimes having a low monthly premium may cost you more if your out-of-pocket costs are high. Depending on your health care needs, and to pick the best coverage for those needs, first calculate your healthcare costs from recent years and try to estimate what your costs might be for the coming year. Don’t forget to include the cost of doctor’s visits, prescriptions, eye glasses, dental procedures, and any other procedures you may (or may not) expect.
(3) Consider your Total Health
Many individuals don’t sign up for vision service plans or dental benefits when they are trying to lower their overall monthly health insurance premiums. However, annual eye exams can detect the early signs of chronic diseases like diabetes, glaucoma and high blood pressure – and early detection of these conditions can save you from extensive medical bills in the long run. Checking on your eyes throughout the year is essential to seeing well and making sure you don’t need corrective lenses. Catching vision changes minimizes headaches from squinting, poor test scores, and ensures great eyesight so you don’t get into a car accident. (Talk about medical bills then!) So consider taking advantage of the vision and dental benefits packages offered by your employer, or look into affordable individual plans that you can purchase on your own.
For more information on open enrollment, and other tips to help you pick the right plan for your family, visit: http://www.seemuchmore.com/
And stay well!
I am a compensated VSP Ambassador and this post is part of my ambassadorship!