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How to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

Picking the right health insurance plan can be stressful, time consuming and just all around overwhelming. Every year, I am determined to research my options more so I don’t get stuck regretting my insurance choices for an entire year. Open Enrollment is so important because it’s the time we have to pick the right doctor, plan and costs that will work best for our needs and budget. I’m partnering with Dignity Health to share why we should take advantage of this time and how to make the most of Open Enrollment.

How to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

The first thing to look at during open enrollment is what your employer offers. You may get help with everything from health care, to childcare, to retirement, to life and disability insurance, and more. If you’re self-employed like I am, then your job may be a bit more complicated because the options are more vast. Dignity Health conducted a survey in 2017 that polled Californians on how they feel about Open Enrollment, and most Californians say choosing a health insurance plan is more stressful than paying bills. I’ve been there! Know your options so you don’t have to be one of these statistics!

Let’s break this down by category and what to keep an eye on.

How to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

1. Know Your Deadline:

If you get insurance through your employer then be sure to find out when their deadline is to pick your plan. It can vary by employer. If you’re in California and going through Covered California then Open Enrollment is from October 15 – January 15th. Just make sure you don’t miss the deadline, no matter who you are going through.

2. Understand the Different Plan Types:

  • PPOPros = Larger Network of doctors, Can go out of network, Don’t need referral. Cons = Higher premiums and deductibles.
  • HMOPros = Lower premiums and lower costs than PPO. Cons = Need to stay in network and need referrals to see specialists. 
  • HDHPPros = Lower premiums and employer-contributed HSAs (Health Savings Accounts). Cons = High deductibles.

3. Compare Costs and Plans

How to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

Look at all of your options and seriously compare with everything in mind. Compare the monthly costs, with prescriptions in mind, as well as co-pays and deductibles. Look at the big picture and make sure you’ll be okay should anything catastrophic happen, but also make sure your immediate needs are taken care of. This past year I had such a large kidney stone that I couldn’t pass it on my own and had to have it blasted. If I wasn’t properly covered it would have cost me a pretty penny. Assess your family’s needs and try to find a good fit that you will be pleased with and know you won’t have buyers’ remorse. Been there, don’t that.

4. Look at the Network and Doctors

The last couple of years, I chose plans based on the plan cost and not based on the doctors I had to choose from. Let me tell you, this made for a couple of frustrating years! I’m picky about my doctors and the care I receive, so I’m trying something different this year, and basing my decision more on the care I can receive. The survey by Dignity Health showed that Californians don’t prioritize doctors when choosing health insurance. Even though a full 70% have a preferred doctor, clinic, or practice that they choose for health care, 47% go about open enrollment in the following order: 1. Picking their insurance plan 2. Selecting healthcare providers/doctors based on who is covered/in-network for that plan.

How to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

Doesn’t this sound backwards? Yet so many of us do it this way. When looking at the available insurances plans available, go further to see what kind of care you can receive. Know that there are good options out there like Dignity Health. Dignity Health is one of the nation’s largest health systems with a multi-state network of 10,000 physicians, more than 60,000 employees, 39 acute care hospitals and 400-plus care-centers! If you’re looking for dedicated and compassionate care, then know Dignity Health is committed to this level of affordable patient-centered care with special attention to the poor and underserved. At Dignity Health, they understand that human connection is the foundation for healing. I truly believe this as well because we as patients need to feel heard and understood, for healing to take place.

Take advantage of your Open Enrollment period and really know the options available to you. 

About the author

Emily Buys


  • Thanks for sharing such a great resource. It can be tough to pick the right insurance. There are so many types and plans out there.

  • Yes, we are in the middle of my husband’s open enrollment right now. We just made a few changes.

  • This is an excellent resource. Insurance can be tricky with what they cover and don’t cover. Great post to help make an informed decision.

  • Choosing an insurance plan sounds mind-boggling and stressful. You definitely want to weigh the pros and cons and do your research.

  • You’ve got some really good advice here. I know how important this topic can be. Choosing the right insurance can be tough.

  • Health insurance is something I never want to downgrade! I hope everyone takes advantage of open enrollment soon!

  • I hate the whole open enrollment thing. I would so prefer to let anyone sign up whenever they want rather than potentially waiting w/o insurance for a long time.

  • Thank you for all these tips and details. You made me think about the health insurance plan a little bit different. This year I will try a different approaching.

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