COLUMBUS – During the Fall many employers hold their annual open enrollment periods for their employees to select health insurance coverage. Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor suggests people carefully evaluate their options to determine the coverage that best fits their needs and to reach out to the Ohio Department of Insurance with any insurance-related questions. Taylor also said the Department recently launched a new consumer guide to help Ohioans understand the basics of health insurance.
“Companies often offer their employees different insurance plans or benefits to choose from and plans change from year-to-year,” Taylor said. “As a starting point, you should make sure your plan’s network includes your preferred doctor, medical facility and pharmacy. You also need to be clear about your contribution to the monthly premium and expenses associated with a deductible and other out of pocket costs.”
Taylor said employees should first talk with their employer while working through the decision making process and that they can also contact the Department at 1-800-686-1526. Ohioans can also turn to the Department’s new health insurance consumer guide, available at www.insurance.ohio.gov, to learn more about choosing and understanding a health plan, coverage decisions at different life stages, how to appeal a decision by your insurer and much more. The Department offers the following employer open enrollment basics:
What is open enrollment?
During this period, the health insurance plan the employer chooses must accept all applicants of the group. Open enrollment is generally only held once a year. If you miss your company’s annual open enrollment, you likely will not be able to enroll in your employer-sponsored health insurance program until next year. Certain exceptions apply for new employees or employees with qualifying events. Make sure you are clear about when your company’s open enrollment period begins and ends, and when your policy goes into effect.
Before making a choice
- Check to see if your current physicians and area hospitals are in the plan’s network. Using network providers generally will save money on your health care.
- Check to see if spouses or dependents are covered and what paperwork must be submitted for coverage.
- Read plan materials thoroughly so that you know what your rights and responsibilities are under each plan.
- If you take prescription medications, check them against the list of approved drugs in each plan booklet.
- If any part of a plan is unclear to you, ask for help from your human resources department or the insurer.
Compare the costs and coverages of the plans offered
- It’s important to carefully evaluate your healthcare costs when making your annual enrollment decisions. Because one option might have higher monthly premiums and a low deductible, and another might have a lower premium but more out-of-pocket expenses, it is important to carefully weigh all factors in determining which plan fits the need of you and your family.
- Some prescription medications have higher co-payments than others and they might vary from plan to plan.
- If your dependents have health insurance coverage through their employer, school or the Veteran’s Administration, compare their costs and benefits to the family plans you are considering to ensure that you choose the best plan for every member of your family. Make the same type of comparisons for any dental or vision care plans that you are offered.
- Once enrolled in a health plan, you will not be able to make changes until the next open enrollment period, unless there is a qualifying event such as a divorce, job change, marriage, birth of a baby or adoption of a child.
- If you do not receive insurance cards and/or enrollment information, contact your human resources administrator, or call the insurer.
Ohioans with insurance questions can call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526. Insurance information is also available at www.insurance.ohio.gov. You can follow the Ohio Department of Insurance on twitter @OHInsurance and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentofInsurance.