March 12, 2020

Five questions to ask at Open Enrollment

Grant Parker

Open Enrollment is the best time of year to learn how to make the most of your health coverage. Here are five questions you should ask.

Open Enrollment is the 1-2 week period prior to the start of the plan where you’re able to choose between different coverage options your employer is providing, add dependents to your plan, and learn about what’s changing with your health insurance.

One of your first interactions with your new health plan will be an “open enrollment meeting”, where someone who’s an expert in your health coverage comes to explain the plan(s) and answer questions. DON’T SKIP THESE! This is your chance to learn how to save money on next year’s plan and what support resources are available to you. To help you make the most of these meetings, these are the five questions everyone should ask at open enrollment.

 

1. Why is this plan better than our old one?

Understanding why your employer chose this plan, and what their goals where in doing so, can give you important context for how to make it work for you.

 

2. What can I do on this plan to save money?

You don’t want to pay any more for your healthcare than you have to. Because the people putting on your open enrollment are likely the ones who chose, or even designed, your health plan, they’ll know better than anyone where the savings are hiding. All you have to do is ask.

 

3. Where should I start when I need to find a doctor? (or “What resources are available to me to find the best doctor?”)

Doctor cost and doctor quality are not always related. Many plans will have a designated place for you to go find recommended providers, whether it’s a web page or a concierge phone line. Open enrollment is the best time to learn what resources are available to you. Even if you don’t need to find a doctor right now, it could be good to know later on.

If you already have doctors that want to keep seeing, this is also an important question to ask: can I still see my current doctor?

 

4. What doesn’t my plan pay for that I need to know about?

When it comes to paying for healthcare, one of the worst surprises you can get is when you think something is covered, only to find out when the bill comes that isn’t part of your plan. Help protect yourself against these situations by asking upfront if there is any common treatment or care that isn’t covered by your plan.

 

5. What should I do if I receive a surprise bill?

There might be a situation where you think your treatment is all taken care of, only to get a bill a few weeks later that you didn’t expect. This is called a surprise bill, or a balance bill, and while we’re working to make these bills extinct, the fact is that these days they do happen.

If you receive a surprise bill, the worst thing you can do is just pay it without asking questions. Instead, make sure your find out at open enrollment how best to respond: what to look for, who to call, etc. Up to 80% of hospital bills include errors, and we want to make sure you don’t end up paying any more than you owe.

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