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Open Enrollment

By Jill Hamilton on December 3, 2018 in Insurance


We’ve survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and our thoughts quickly turn to the next big event. No, not the holidays, but open enrollment for insurance.

The internet is full of information about open enrollment and you may have even seen a few commercials between the football and turkey. And while it’s easy to just pick the same options as last year, look at open enrollment as an opportunity to take stock of your health situation.

As you review your plan options, here are three things you’ll want to consider: timing, your health needs and what you can do to rein in health costs through preventive care.

TIMING: When does open enrollment begin and end? This varies depending on your age, state of residence and employment status.

  • If you are employed full-time, your company human resources department or supervisor can provide that information.
  • If you are retired or not currently employed, you have options. You may be eligible to open enroll on the federal insurance marketplace which is open until December 15, 2018.
  • If you are eligible for Medicare, you will need to complete your open enrollment by December 7, 2018.
  • Individual plans are also available and may be a good option either as your full medical plan or as a supplement.

YOUR HEALTH NEEDS: Take a critical look at your health and your habits. There are myriad options for insurance plans, but the best place to start in the process of picking the right plan might be with an honest inventory of the state of your health. Make notes of what you know and what you’re considering so you have these situations in mind as you are reviewing plan options.

  • Do you take prescription medications?
  • Do you require a specific therapy for a recurring injury?
  • Do you have any surgeries on the horizon?
  • Will you need any dental surgery in 2019?
  • New glasses or contacts?
  • Planning to have a baby?
  • Are there any medications you could reduce or eliminate by improving your health through diet and exercise?

PREVENTIVE CARE: The financial elements of various medical, dental and vision plans like co-pays, deductibles and reimbursements tend to take center stage when we are comparing plans. It’s a good idea to also consider what preventive care elements are included in your plan. Arranging and attending regularly scheduled checkups not only establishes a relationship with your doctor, dentist or optometrist, but it may help identify disease or injury earlier. Think of it in the same way we apply routine maintenance for our vehicles – shouldn’t we do the same for our bodies?

  • Be vigilant about attending regular checkups with your dentist or optometrist. Perhaps there are cost-saving programs in which you could participate and earn credits for improved health habits.
  • If you smoke, is it time to quit?
  • If you drink alcohol, should you reduce your consumption or eliminate it?
  • What is your process to manage stress? Whatever your method is to relax those shoulders or ease that tension headache, it’s essential to your health. Stress contributes to a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms such as hypertension, asthma, ulcers, depression and more.
  • Schedule your annual or bi-annual checkups now for 2019 while you are thinking about your health.

It’s easy to avoid facing the process of open enrollment and it’s even easier to ignore potential health issues. Use open enrollment as a time to take a health inventory and improve or begin a preventive approach to your overall health care. Being prepared for whatever comes your way is easier with the right insurance plans and a healthy mind and body.