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Utah Insurance

Five Things to Know About Open Enrollment

Let’s face it. Health insurance can be complicated, and signing up for coverage that is best for you and your family can be confusing.

We’re the Utah Insurance Department and we’re here to help you through a difficult process.

So let’s start at the beginning. Before you can figure out which health insurance plan is right for you, you’ve got to ask the right questions. These answers to common Open Enrollment questions will better prepare you in making sure your family has adequate coverage for 2017.

1. When is the Open Enrollment period?

You can begin shopping for a health insurance plan beginning November 1st, and you actually have until January 31st to sign up for coverage for 2017.

But here’s what’s really important to know: to make sure you have coverage for ALL of 2017, you need to enroll by December 15th.

2. When will my insurance plan go into effect?

That all depends on when you sign up. If you register by December 15th, your insurance plan begins with the new year: January 1st.

But if you wait and sign up between December 15th and January 15th, your coverage won’t begin until February 1st. Sign up between January 16th and January 31st, and your coverage doesn’t start until March 1st.

That’s why it’s very important to start looking and comparing plans as early as possible. Make sure to enroll by December 15th so you’ll have coverage for all of 2017.

3. What kind of coverage is best for my family and me?

This can be tricky. And it’s where it gets complicated. But here are some general things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a plan during Open Enrollment:

  • Plans themselves: There are all kinds of health care plans for all kinds of needs and age groups. The health plan you choose determines how you and your plan share the costs of care.
  • Monthly premiums: This is the amount you pay your insurance company whether you use medical services or not. Premiums are important, but they’re not all you need to think about.
  • Provider and non-provider networks: Different plans offer different levels of coverage for care inside and outside of the plan’s network of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other medical service providers. Many plans only pay for in-network providers unless there is an emergency.
  • Deductible: This is expense that must be paid out of pocket before your insurance company will pay any expenses. Different plans have different levels of deductibles.

To get a better understanding of what coverage is best for you and your family, we suggest you work with a health insurance agent. Their services are free to you. And more importantly, a health insurance agent can help you understand this complicated business and help you determine the best plan for you.

4. What if I choose the wrong plan?

There ARE a few things you can do if you decide you didn’t select the right plan. If you have a life event like changing jobs or getting married, you can switch to a new plan mid-year. It’s possible to cancel your plan, but there may be a tax penalty attached to that option. Cancelling can be difficult, so you’re generally best off by staying with the contract you’re on for the year, and then switching plans during the Open Enrollment period next year.

5. How can an insurance agent help me?

Most people wouldn’t go to court with a lawyer or buy a house without a real estate agent. It’s the same with health insurance. A health insurance agent knows health insurance inside and out. An agent can answer any question and allay any concerns you might have during this complicated process.

And, remember, health insurance agents get paid by the insurance companies. There is absolutely no cost to you to get their advice and recommendations.

So don’t wait. Contact an insurance agent, and get started on the Open Enrollment process today.