Most health insurance plans offer open enrollment each fall.
With all of the discussion emanating from Washington, D.C., about health insurance, you may be confused about your options for 2017.
Take the time to choose wisely, says Dr. Regan Chan, a UC Irvine Health family medicine physician located in Orange.
"Life happens. Things change. Assess whether your current health plan is meeting your needs," Chan says. "Make yourself aware of your options, and not just the bottom line — the costs. Look at the way your provider delivers care."
Consumers who choose plans that include UC Irvine Health will have access to an extensive primary care network, specialists and top facilities, he says.
"The nice thing about an academic health setting is that our experts have seen it all. They are at the forefront of education and clinical trials. Those things may not be available in other settings."
What you should know
Know your enrollment dates
If you're buying insurance on the Covered California health insurance exchange, open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31. For Medicare recipients, open enrollment begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.
Know what's changing in 2018
Read any notices sent to you from your current insurer regarding changes to the 2018 plan. If your employer offers meetings or classes about your 2018 insurance options, attend a meeting and ask questions.
Look at your costs for the previous year and try to anticipate what medical costs you may incur in the coming year. Calculate what you might pay for your portion of insurance premiums, deductibles, co-payments (for doctor office and emergency room visits) and co-insurance (the percentage of costs paid by the health plan after you've met your deductible). Don't forget to consider prescription drug co-payments or coinsurance.
Affordable Care Act still in play
The federal Affordable Care Act has not been repealed for 2018. That means you must sign up for health insurance during open enrollment if you don't already have it or you will have to pay a penalty fee. If you were enrolled in a marketplace health insurance plan in 2017, it will automatically re-enroll you if you do nothing.
Is your doctor still in network?
During open enrollment, you can change your plan and select new doctors. If you want to remain with your current doctor or doctors, check your 2018 plan's network to make sure those doctors are in the network.
Staying on your parents' plan
If you're age 26 or younger, you can stay on your parent's plan.
Check if health savings accounts save you money
Learn about health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts if your employer offers these. Do any of these programs help you save money?
Consider vision and dental
Consider whether you need dental or vision insurance and what those plans will cost.