The first step is to take a look at your choices. You’re likely to have a number of plans to choose among. For example, employees of the federal government who live in New York have a mind-bending 25 plans to choose from. In either case, it pays to check every year to see if there’s a newly available or expanded plan available to you.
The details in the rankings may be important. If you’re planning on adding to your family, check the ratings for the company’s prenatal and postpartum care. If someone in your family has asthma, check the plan’s rating for asthma control and asthma drug management.
Ask around. If you have doctors you like, you’ll want to check with their offices before switching insurance plans. Many doctors and hospitals take multiple plans, so this may not be a problem. If you’re looking for a new doctor, don’t just pick at random from the insurer’s book of practitioners. Asking around is a good idea when considering a plan, too. Ask others about their experience with physicians who accept the plan, how out-of-pocket costs mount up and whether they’ve had problems filing claims or having services denied. These factors can vary by locale, so a colleague who lives in your area will be best informed.
Both objective sources such as insurance plan rankings and subjective ones like the first-hand experience of colleagues are useful for choosing a plan. Rankings tell you how a plan rates with large numbers of its customers, but valuable information also can be found among your colleagues, friends and health professionals who have had experience with a particular plan that’s among your choices.