lifestyle

Choosing a Health Care Plan: 5 Tips for Making the Best Choice

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Choosing a health care plan isn't easy. With Obama Care coming on the scene, ever changing health care provider and requirement information, and the paperwork alone required to sign up, choosing the health care plan that's right for you can be a daunting task, if not paralyzing!

Filling in a Medical Insurance form on a Digital Tablet

But while figuring out and choosing a health care plan can be intimidating, based on a study conducted by Cigna, women, as the primary medical decision makers in their homes, want advice with how to find the best and most affordable health insurance. A finding from the study showed that "62 percent worry that health costs will drain their family resources." Can you relate? I know I can!

Cigna's Study: “Health and Well-being: Attitudes and Behaviors of Women”

See how your opinions and issues with choosing a health care plan align with other women around the US.

Cigna-Choosing a Health Care Plan-Infographic

Can you relate to any of those statistics? I know I can! And if so, even if you already have existing insurance and just need medical care this year, the tips below are for you!

5 Tips for Choosing a Health Care Plan That Works for Your Family

Choosing a Health Care Plan-Cigna-Doctor Visit-Child Health CareWhen we needed to switch insurance plans this year and after all of 5 seconds diving into the process, I gave up and turned it over to my husband. I know! Wimpy! These processes really overwhelm me. But, after reading these simple tips, I can see how approaching it one step at a time, getting advice, and following these tips below could have really made choosing a health care plan much more simple than I had thought it would be.

1. If you have existing health care coverage, review the benefits in your current plan.

What a lot of people don't realize is that health insurance and health care providers want you to make positive decisions about your health. Therefore, they offer lots of benefits to help you do just that. For example, preventive care options typically include an annual check-up, flu shots, various cancer screenings and other types of preventive care provided with no out-of-pocket cost to you. Make sure to check out the benefits of your existing coverage when choosing a health care plan and when looking into services you need.

2. Identify resources available to you for choosing a health care plan and make use of those tools.

In Cigna's survey, 75 percent of women said they would like their health plan’s guidance with managing costs, navigating the health system, and picking the best coverage for their situation and budget. The good news is the most health care plans have taken this feedback to heart, making it easy for women to make great health provider choices.

Recently, I had to switch doctors. I had absolutely no idea who to choose. My health insurance had a great website that provided all sorts of information about the doctors in my area. I appreciated that they shared their education and pricing information, specialties, and even had reviews from patients. I made a well-informed decision that precisely met my needs all because of the tools available to me.

3. Base your decision, in part, on getting the right doctors and care team.

I have needed a lot of doctors in my life, so I know that having a great medical team is worth its weight in gold. Cigna’s research seconded that when it revealed that 63 percent of women choose their doctors based on whether the physicians are covered in their health plan, and nearly half—49 percent—choose a doctor based on how actively involved the doctor is in their care.

When choosing a health care plan, research the doctors. Make sure they have choices that work for you.

4. Identify health care perks your employee offers and take advantage of those.

If you work for a company that provides your health insurance, make sure to check into health care perks, such as a wellness program or fitness facilities. Employers benefit from having healthy employees and a positive work environment, both of which can be helped with health and wellness programs. Cigna's survey showed that only about a third of women use their employers’ wellness programs, with about another third saying they don’t know how to access the programs and nearly one in four women saying they don’t have time. Accessing these programs leads to a healthier you, so make sure to check them out!

5. Use employer assistance programs.

Most women—68 percent—said in our survey that they’re as healthy as they were last year, and 92 percent said they would be willing to make a lifestyle change in order to avoid taking medication. Of those who feel their health has slipped, more than half cite increased stress as the main reason. Check with your employer or call your health insurer to find out what kind of employee assistance programs, or employee benefits, may be available to help you cope with stress. Many health plans include counseling, and some employers even offer onsite seminars and sessions with mental health professionals at the workplace.

Whether you have employer assistance in covering your health insurance or rely on sourcing your own individual/family plan, make sure to get the facts when choosing a health care plan. Not only will your savings increase, but so will your peace of mind and ultimately, your overall health and wellness.

What tips do you recommend when choosing a health care plan?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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