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Open enrollment: How to select a health care plan

Sep 13, 2019

When it comes to home repairs, cars and groceries, we try to be savvy spenders. We get quotes and clip coupons. When it comes to health spending, even the most frugal can get overwhelmed.

Most families will be reviewing their health insurance options this fall—data from the 2019 Ohio Health Issues Poll show that the vast majority of Ohio adults (94%) have health coverage, either from a public or private source.

Some tips for open enrollment:

Start by learning the lingo: Know the difference between a deductible (the amount you pay before your insurance starts to pay) and a premium (the amount you pay each month for coverage); in-network versus out-of-network (providers that have a contract with your insurance provider are in network; those that do not are out of network).

Next, think about the year ahead. Are you planning surgery? Taking medications? Although you can’t predict every health need, reviewing those you know for certain can help narrow your options.

Be resourceful. Are there brochures or videos that clearly explain the plan details? Can you consult with a human resources representative or your benefits broker? Find resources at and ask for your plan’s summary of benefits and coverage.

Finally, be mindful of deadlines. Be sure to submit applications on time to ensure coverage.

Decisions you make now can affect your health and well-being well into 2020, so it’s important to take the time to make informed choices.

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president and chief executive officer of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. Dr. Owens is a reproductive endocrinologist. He earned an MD, an OB/GYN residency and a master’s of public health degree from Yale University School of Medicine. He also obtained a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School. In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President, and Interim Health Commissioner and Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

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