Guest column: UnitedHealthcare offers tips for health insurance shopping

Amid high inflation, you may be looking for ways to adjust your lifestyle and spending habits. But when it comes to health care, it’s important to keep your well-being and budget in mind.

Annual or open enrollment is upon us – a time when more than 5.7 million people in Colorado and millions of Americans across the country will have the opportunity to choose or change their health insurance plan for next year.

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Open enrollment is a great opportunity to review how often you use health services and decide whether to stick with your current plan or switch to another. It’s also an opportunity to assess your overall maintenance costs to make sure you’re choosing a plan that will work best for next year’s budget.

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For people with a job from their employer, open enrollment usually takes place for two weeks between September and December. Medicare members can enroll or make changes to coverage starting Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Most of the selections will be effective on Jan. 1, 2023.

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Here are seven tips to help you choose a health plan through an employer, Exchange Marketplace or Medicare:

  1. Consider all your options. Take the time to understand and compare the benefits, services and costs of each plan, so you can determine which one will work best for you. A good first step would be to watch a quick refresher video on the type of health insurance, including premiums, deductibles, copays, coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs.
    Medicare members: As you weigh your options, make sure you know the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.. If you need an update, visit — an online resource with answers to questions about eligibility, plan selection, cost bases, prescription coverage and more.
  2. Check your prescription benefits. Knowing how to get the most out of your prescription benefits can help you manage costs. For example, check for discounts and less expensive alternatives, including generics, that may be available. You can also fill your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery by mail – two more money-saving options.
    Medicare members: You may be surprised to learn that Original Medicare rarely covers prescription drugs. Consider adding Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drugs to help keep your drug costs down.
  3. Check for mental health coverage. In addition to personalized psychological 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: Some plans offer virtual mental health care with a $0 copay, including UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage.
  4. Don’t forget about special benefits. Additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing or critical illness insurance are often available and may contribute to overall well-being.
    Medicare members: You may be surprised that Original Medicare doesn’t cover many dental, vision and hearing services, but many Medicare Advantage plans do.
  5. Look for health plans. Many health plans offer incentives that reward you for taking healthy stepssuch as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine.
    Medicare members: Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer gym memberships and wellness programs for members at no additional cost.
  6. Anticipate next year’s health care costs. If you are expecting a major health event in the next year, such as surgery or the birth of a child, compare the different plan designs for that particular situation, including any out-of-pocket costs.
  7. Consider a program with physical care services. If you’re busy or just prefer to see a doctor in the comfort of your own home, consider choosing a plan that includes 24/7 virtual care. You may have access to health visits, urgent care and chronic condition management.
    Medicare members: Many Medicare Advantage plans offer access to virtual care, which can be a convenient, affordable way to talk to a doctor about common health problems on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

For more articles and videos about open enrollment, visit

This article was written by Marc Neely, CEO of UnitedHealthcare in Colorado and Wyoming, again George Young, CEO, Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado and Wyoming


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