Evan Hyatt, Executive Director of Operations – Northern Colorado for Kaiser Permanente

Now that we are in the second half of the year, many businesses are focusing on reports of their healthcare expenses from the previous year and if they need to look at the many options that are available to help reduce costs. Open enrollment is typically the last few months of the year, and selecting a plan that best fits your needs (and your employees, if you own a business) is one of the most important health care and financial decisions you can make. Understanding healthcare coverage in today’s world can be complicated, and making such an important decision can feel stressful. It is never too early to begin looking at options and asking questions. Here are some important steps that may help you make your decision.

Review your past health care experiences.

Look at your current health plan. Are you satisfied with the level of service and support you receive? What do you like or maybe want to change?

How does your health plan measure up?  

Positive outcomes in health care illustrate the value of the care you are receiving. The National Committee for Quality Assurance ranks health plans based on a number of factors including prevention, treatment and member satisfaction. See where your health plan ranks at ncqa.org.

Estimate health care needs for the coming year. 

Predicting the future isn’t easy! Start by looking at the past year. Did anything change for you in regards to health?  For instance, maybe you’ve developed a chronic condition like diabetes that might require more doctor visits or prescriptions. Make sure your plan makes it convenient to access this increased level of care.

What do you want from your health plan, physicians, and other health care providers? 

You should be able to have easy and fast access to your physician and health information so you can conveniently manage your health. Look for convenient online tools like being able to email your physicians, order prescriptions, view test results, and make appointments (for yourself and family members) — at no additional cost.

Examine all costs involved in maintaining your health — and the plan’s total value. 

Don’t automatically sign up for the plan with the lowest premium. Look at the total value you’re getting in terms of services and costs. What services are provided? What are the co-pays for office visits, hospital visits and prescription drugs? What is the deductible? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be prepared to find the health plan that’s right for you. Choosing the right health plan for you takes time but you will find it’s definitely time well spent!