Whether you have to wait until open enrollment to change your health insurance coverage or your coverage allows you to switch at any time, there are a few things to consider before jumping ship on your medical insurance. Often, the plan you enroll into has a period of time that you are “locked into” the plan, and you may have to wait up to a year to change again. Keeping that in mind, this is an important decision that requires some thought.
Is Your PCP Covered?
Being able to freely see your primary care provider when you need a doctor is one of the most important reasons to carry health insurance. If your doctor is out of network on a new plan, it’s a potentially bad idea to switch. Out of pocket costs can really add up, even for those that are in good health and only see a doctor a few times a year.
Other Types of Insurance
If one of the reasons you want to switch is to have better dental insurance and vision coverage, that’s a very important thing to consider. Paying out of pocket for dental care, even routine cleanings twice a year, can get really expensive, even if your dentist has a sliding scale. If your new plan includes general dentistry and vision exams, it may be time to switch. Another thing to consider is prescription coverage.
Waiting Periods for Eligibility
If your new plan has a substantial waiting period and it’s fairly on par with your current plan, it probably isn’t worth the wait. This is an important question to ask if you’re switching jobs, in which case changing insurance may be unavoidable. COBRA, the type of insurance that covers you between jobs, can be more expensive than staying with your original plan. Even if you have to pay a higher premium to stay with the insurance offered from your old employer, it may be worth it to stay on.
Quality of Care
Another important thing to consider is your quality of care. If you’re happy with what you’re receiving now, it may be a good idea to stick with the plan you have. If a new plan is less expensive and you can keep all of your same doctors, hospitals, and specialist choices, that is of course, a different story.
Almost as important as quality of care, the bottom line costs are an important factor when you’re thinking about switching. What are your premiums and deductibles? Obviously, no one can predict the future, but if you’re a reasonably healthy adult with high premiums and low deductibles, it may be time for higher deductibles that may save you money in the long run.
Money isn’t the most important thing when it comes to deciding whether to switch health insurance. Your health is paramount, and if your quality of care will go down over just saving a few dollars, it’s better to stick with your current plan. However, if you find a way to keep costs down while keeping the same quality of care, it is a good idea to switch.