Have you been seeing the term, “Open Enrollment,” a lot lately? Maybe in work emails, postcards from AARP in the mail, or ads on TV? Do you know what open enrollment is and why it matters? Open Enrollment is the one time each year that many of us have a chance to make decisions about our insurance coverage for things like medical, dental, and eye care. For many employers and those receiving Medicare, that open enrollment window is now! It matters because our health changes and our needs change and once the open enrollment window is closed, it’s often closed for another year. This is your reminder to enroll now!


First things first when it comes to open enrollment is to know the coverage that you currently have. Look over your policy and talk to your human resources department or insurance carriers if you have any questions or concerns. You can also look at what parts of your policy you benefited from and if there are other benefits you didn’t utilize. You may also find there were other benefits that you had and would have liked to have used, but you didn’t know about them. Depending on your use this year, you may decide that it’s time to adjust.


Second, what does 2023 hold in store? Will you be retiring? Having a baby? Surgery? Divorce? Have you noted you need new glasses or having dental issues? Depending on what you project for 2023 you may want to add new coverage or upgrade your plan. Many people opt out of eye insurance when it can be a very minimal cost and cover preventative eye care. If you opted out of dental insurance this year, you may want to add it back on to skip paying out-of-pocket for cleanings that may be covered up to four times a year. If you will be shifting to Medicare in 2023, consider joining an online Medicare boot camp class or talking to the NEK Council on Aging (1-800-642-5119 or (802) 748-5182) for support and guidance.


Third, while you are investigating your policies and coverage take notes about what your options and benefits are. Many people find they are paying out-of-pocket for benefits they didn’t know they had. Does your insurance cover gym reimbursements, massage, other holistic care, free apps, or other discounts that can help you as you take better care of yourself? There may also be discounts for having your prescriptions mailed to your home or health savings account options too. What types of preventive care such as mammograms or blood work may be available to you at no cost? Take notice of what options you have for seeing providers if you are planning to see a specialist. Seeing an “in-network,” provider may save you a lot of money rather than going, “out-of-network.” Take some time to get to know what you are paying for and plan to use it!


Be proactive and ask for information on mental health and substance abuse coverage. Sometimes there are limits on the number of visits or limits on the amount of coverage for a lifetime. Better to know what is covered before you use up all your visits or max out on coverage. Your insurance provider may also limit the number of free visits with an online health coach, mental health applications for phones and tablets, and educational resources to help us all through the different stages of life, especially in a climate of changing mental health needs.


Lastly, once you have identified your needs for the year ahead, make a plan to enroll ASAP! Many companies cut off their options for enrollment by early December, ask your employer or insurance company about your specific date. Life can change pretty quickly and it’s important that you are covered as best you can be. Weigh the cost and benefits of what plans and options will be best for you and if you identify you need to make some changes, don’t wait! Insurance policy changes are soon coming to a close – enroll now!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center