You know whether you'll use a navigation system in your car. You know whether you're better off with a PC or a Mac. But when it comes to choosing health insurance, do you know what options are right for you?
With so much changing this year, it's more important than ever to understand your health care choices and make the best decisions for you and your family.
The Affordable Care Act is now underway, and more Americans than ever are able to get health insurance. But read the fine print: not all the policies available on the exchange are equal.
Whether you're buying health insurance through the exchange or through an employer-based program, shop around and make sure you understand what each plans' out-of-pocket expenses are and what they cover. Most importantly, look carefully to make sure the network and doctors you trust and rely on are available under the plan you choose.
It's important to do an apples-to-apples comparison when reviewing plans. For instance, if you're considering removing yourself from your spouse's employer-based plan to buy insurance on the exchange, make sure the policies available will allow you to see the same doctors and give you access to the care you expect.
Even if you plan to buy the same plan from your employer that you did last year, it's important to review the policy. After years of being hit with double-digit increases in health care costs, many employers have started to cut back or pass the costs of copays, deductibles and spousal coverage on to employees – so the plan you think you're choosing might look a little different this year.
Just because your employer might be skimping doesn't mean you should, too. Some of the “skinny,” or low-priced plans, don't include academic hospitals or premier medical centers at which you may prefer to be treated.
Regardless of which network or doctors you choose, however, make sure you understand and feel good about your choice. You can't predict when you'll need medical attention or what your health care needs will be for the coming year. If you want peace of mind, choose a network that offers access to the best services and doctors.
Take your time when choosing health care. Review the options carefully and thoughtfully.
After all, you likely read reviews and make the most educated decisions when choosing a smartphone. Shouldn't you take as much of an active role in choosing a smart health plan?
– Maureen Sparks is a manager in managed care contracting at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.
To view the original Orange County Register article, click here.