Choosing Health Benefits this Open Enrollment 


As inflation in the U.S. remains high, you may be looking to adjust your lifestyle and spending habits. But when it comes to health care, it’s important to keep your budget and well-being in mind. 

This year’s open enrollment season is a good chance to review how you’re using health services and decide whether you’ll stick with the plan you’ve got or switch to another being offered. It’s also an opportunity to assess your overall care costs to help ensure you choose a plan that will work best for next year’s budget. 

Enrollment Timing 

For people with coverage from their employer, open enrollment typically happens during a two- or three-week period between September and December. 

For those eligible for Medicare, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 7 each year. Coverage selections made during the fall will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. 

Here are seven tips to consider when choosing a plan that may help lead you to better health and cost savings: 

Consider All Options 

Take time to understand and compare the benefits, services and costs of each plan available to you, so you can figure out which will be the best fit. 

Pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You also should understand out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
As you weigh your options, ensure you’re familiar with the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. If you need a review, visit — an online resource with answers to questions about eligibility, plan choices, cost basics and more. 

Learn the Language 

If you’re overwhelmed by or unsure about certain health care terms, there are resources to help. As a start, check out UnitedHealth Group’s Just Plain Clear Glossary (in English, Spanish and Portuguese) to help you make informed decisions. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
There’s a lot to learn about Medicare and Medicare Made Clear can help you understand the basics, the complexities and everything in between. 

Prevent Financial Surprises 

Visiting doctors that are in-network is one way to help keep your costs lower. So before selecting a plan, check to see if your doctor is in your health plan’s provider network. Also, make sure your medications will be covered by the plan you choose next year — even if you don’t expect to change plans. 

Look into filling your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery by mail — two more potentially money-saving options. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
You may be surprised to learn Original Medicare doesn’t generally cover prescription drugs. Consider adding Part D or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to help keep your medication costs in check. 

Mental Health Coverage. 

In addition to in-person mental health care, you may have access to a large virtual network of therapists and psychiatrists. Some health insurers also offer advocacy services to help you find the right type of behavioral health care. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
Look for plans that offer virtual mental health care with a $0 copay. 

Specialty Benefits  

Additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing or critical illness insurance, are often available and may contribute to overall well-being. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
You may be surprised that Original Medicare doesn’t cover most dental, vision and hearing services, but many Medicare Advantage plans do. 

Wellness Programs 

Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthier actions, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost. 

Explore Virtual Care Services 

If you’re busy or just prefer connecting with a doctor from the convenience of your home, consider choosing a plan that includes 24/7 virtual care. You may have access to virtual wellness visits, urgent care and chronic condition management. 

Medicare members and caregivers  
Most Medicare Advantage plans provide access to virtual care, which can be an easier, more affordable way to talk with doctors about common health issues on a smartphone, tablet or computer. 

For more helpful articles and videos about open enrollment, visit

Types of Medicare and Medigap Plans 

Medicare is individual health insurance offered to U.S. citizens and other eligible individuals based on age, disability or qualifying medical condition. Medicare coverage includes Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) offered by the federal government and Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Part D prescription drug coverage, which are offered by private insurance companies. Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) plans are also offered by private insurance companies and help pay for some out-of-pocket expenses.  

Original Medicare 

Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything — and it isn’t free. Private insurers offer additional coverage to meet a wide range of needs. 

Medicare Advantage Plans 

The coverage of Original Medicare plus additional benefits in one convenient plan. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, too. 

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans 

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans help pay for some of the out-of-pocket costs not covered by Original Medicare. 

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans  

Prescription drugs aren’t covered by Original Medicare. Get Part D prescription drug coverage alone or through a Medicare Advantage plan. 

Special Needs Plans  

Special Needs Plans have benefits that cover special health care or financial needs. All SNPs include prescription drug coverage. 

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