It’s the most wonderful . . . confusing time of year

Right in the middle of the holiday rush every year, I have to pick my health plan. What’s an easy way to compare my options? And by the way, the plan I have now is not being offered again!

Dear Confused and Rushed,
Many people are faced with your same situation. January 1 is the most popular date for health insurance plan years to start.  Aetna did a survey recently and found that more than half of the respondents have trouble understanding and comparing their options.  But there is a way to cut through the fog!
I suggest taking just a few points about each plan. Look at:
• Doctor’s office visit co-pay
• Drug co-pay
• Co-pays for care that you know you will use (such as mental health, physical therapy)
• Deductible
• Your share of the cost (how much per paycheck you pay to have the plan)
Add these figures up for each plan. Granted, we are mixing apples and oranges here; the point is to give you a sort of “index” to compare. A plan with higher co-pays and deductible will have a higher index, even taking into account that you will pay less from your paycheck. The lower the index, the more money from your paycheck you are spending.
The choice boils down to whether you want to handle medical bills when they happen, or to pay more for your plan.

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.