For many companies, now is the time for health insurance open enrollment. This is the time of year that employees can look over health plans and make decisions about what will work best for them. You can choose a new plan if you want, or keep with the same plan.

Even if you decide to keep your same plan, don’t do it because it’s “easy.” This is an opportunity for you to evaluate your current health insurance, and make changes that might work better for you. here are 4 tips for making the most of open enrollment:

1. Take Advantage of New Comparison Tools

The 2010 health care reform law that was recently upheld by the US Supreme Court requires that you receive easy to understand comparisons of your health insurance options. Take advantage of these new comparison tools. Take a few minutes to determine what each plan offers, and what each plan will cost. The comparisons should be simple, and you should even be able to find information for common scenarios, like facing Type II diabetes and having a baby.

2. Evaluate Your Current Health Care Coverage

Make sure you look at the current health care coverage you receive. Really look at your current health insurance plan. Are you paying for coverage you don’t need? Is there a way to change your coverage? You might change the amount of coverage you have, or the items that are covered. If you have had a hysterectomy, there is no reason to pay for maternity coverage. Think about your family’s needs, and evaluate your current coverage. Then, compare your current plan with a plan that more closely covers your needs.

3. Consider a High Deductible Plan

High deductible health care plans are becoming more popular, thanks to the ability to save money on monthly premiums. Look into your company’s high deductible options. In many cases, you can handle the deductible. You might end up paying more out of pocket, but you will save on monthly premiums. You can use a Flexible Savings Account in order to help you cover some of your costs. (Understand that the limit for contributions to a Flexible Savings Account has dropped to $2,500 from $5,000.)

You can also open a Health Savings Account. Bank the savings from your premium, and then use the Health Savings Account to pay your out of pocket costs. You’ll get a tax deduction on top of it all. (Just realize that a Health Savings Account isn’t for everyone.) If your family doesn’t have a lot of health care costs, and if you don’t have any chronic conditions, a high deductible plan can be a good choice.

4. Look Outside Your Employer for Health Care Coverage

Employer plans aren’t always the best deals. While many plans can be good choices, don’t stop there. Consider other options. Check into individual and group plans from other sources. If you have a partner, check his or her available health plans to find out if one of those might better serve your situation.

Look at coverage and cost attached to plans outside your employer. In some cases, you might find a better fit by going outside the box.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.