Nearly all Americans make this big mistake on their health care
When it comes to managing your money, there are a lot of less-than-pleasant tasks you'll need to deal with – from saving for retirement to paying off debt to building a solid emergency fund.
There are certain tasks that some people find simply unbearable. Namely, reviewing health insurance options during open enrollment. Although this is something everyone should do, far too many people skip it – and it could cost them loads of cash.
It's open enrollment season, which means it's time to update your benefits plan. Most people don't make any changes to their plan – a whopping 93% of workers choose to keep the same benefits every year, according to a survey in 2018 from Aflac.
If your plan works for you, you may not feel the need to make any adjustments. Or even if you know your plan is less than stellar, you may not think it's worth the effort to research other options. More than 40% of workers say they'd rather perform some other unpleasant task – such as picking up dog poop – than research their benefit options, according to Aflac's survey.
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As unpleasant as it is, it's important to use open enrollment as an opportunity to see whether there are better health insurance options out there. You'll never know what's available if you simply stick to the same plan out of convenience, and you might overpay for health insurance without realizing it. Especially if your health or household situation has changed in the past year – for example, if you've developed a certain health condition or expect to have a baby soon – your insurance plan may no longer be optimal.
Reviewing your benefit options can save you hundreds of dollars per year. The average worker can save about $642 per year by choosing the plan that's the very best fit, rather than the plan that's only the second-best fit, according to research from Jellyvision, a company that helps people make smart choices about their benefits.
To make sure you choose the best option for you, there are a few things to keep in mind as you browse health insurance options.
First, make sure you aren't fooled by fancy-sounding labels when reviewing different plans. A gold plan may sound like it's better than a silver or bronze plan, but that's not necessarily the case for everyone. Depending on your unique situation, you might be able to get the care you need at a much more affordable price by choosing a more basic option. Don't be swayed by the labels. Look at the actual information within the plan.
Next, know what to look for when you decide between plans. If keeping your doctors is important to you, make sure the plan you choose allows you to stay with them. If you don't expect to need much care this year other than routine doctor visits, you may opt for a plan with a higher deductible and lower premiums to save some money each month.
Finally, do some research to understand all the health care jargon. Insurance lingo can seem like its own language, and it can be overwhelming to decipher all the terms. Study up on terminology such as "deductible," "copay," "HMOs" and "PPOs," since they're some of the most common ones you'll see. You may even choose to keep a handy list of these terms and their definitions nearby that you can refer to as you research.
It's never a bad idea to talk to someone in your human resources department at work if you need help. They can answer any questions you may have about the different plans, or they can refer you to other resources that can help make your decision a little easier.
You may find that you don't need to make any changes to your benefits, or you may find a better plan that provides more expansive care at a more affordable price. Either way, by reviewing your options during the open enrollment period, you can rest easy knowing you're making the best decision for you and your family.
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