Fall is often when people begin thinking about health benefits and insurance coverage for the coming year. Many employers conduct open enrollment in the fall, which may result in new considerations and the possibility of changes in health coverage, especially if your employer is switching insurance carriers or offering new health plans. When it comes to maintaining good health, here are some things to keep in mind as you make choices during open enrollment:
Aim to establish an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider. Long-term physician-patient relationships allow doctors to get to know their patients and learn their medical history. While it’s not always possible to maintain such a relationship due to insurance changes and life circumstances, continuity of care provides significant benefits for patients.
When reviewing your health insurance options each year, check to make sure your primary care doctor is included in your plan. If you need to find a new doctor, plan to schedule an appointment with your current physician before the end of the coverage year to help ensure a smooth transition. Your current doctor may be able to recommend other providers and will help transfer your medical records. If you’re taking prescription medications, it’s important to work with your current doctor to ensure you have refills to meet your needs until you find a new physician.
Review the preventive care coverage included in your plan. The Affordable Care Act requires that preventive health services be covered at no additional cost in all health insurance plans. These services, which include immunizations and health screenings are based on age and gender. Take time to review your health plan to understand what preventive care services are offered and then work with your primary care provider to develop a preventive care plan that’s right for you.
Learn about your prescription drug plan and work with your doctor. Some health insurance plans offer incentives for 90-day prescriptions. If you’re taking maintenance medications for a chronic condition, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, ask your doctor if a longer-term prescription is possible to save you money.
Know where you need to go for lab and imaging services. Some health plans require you to use certain labs and radiology centers. If you’re able to choose, you may want to find facilities that are close to your home or work. If you’re selecting a new primary care doctor for insurance reasons, you may want to see if these services are offered on-site for added convenience.