The annual open enrollment period for many health insurance plans starts in October. That’s the time when you can make choices about your health coverage, whether you get your plan through work, like 55 percent of Americans do, or through a private Medicare plan.
Consumer Reports has just released its analysis of more than 1,000 health care plans and outlines the top questions to consider before you choose.
Consumer Reports’ experts say even though health insurance is tricky, don’t just renew the plan you have. There are some basic things that everyone needs to look at no matter how you get your insurance.
Check the cost-sharing provisions of the plan, such as deductibles and co-pays.
Be sure to check the annual out-of-pocket limit. It’s the most you’d have to pay in a year.
Also check out which doctors and hospitals are in your plan. Choosing a smaller or narrow network can save money. However, if you have an ongoing relationship with providers who aren’t in the plan, it might not be for you.
And if you take prescription drugs regularly, especially costly ones, study the plan’s formulary, or list of preferred drugs, to make sure yours are covered.
Consumer Reports’ analysis of health insurance plans is based on rankings by the NCQA, a nonprofit quality measurement and accreditation organization.
The rankings look at overall quality, customer service, and how well the plans deal with common conditions such as asthma or diabetes.
The rankings also spotlight plans that help you avoid overused or unnecessary care, such as having a CT scan that you don’t need.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on ConsumerReports.org.