Steve Smitherman is president of CareSource Indiana.

As we enter the final months of 2021, many Hoosiers will face a difficult choice — selecting and enrolling into a health insurance plan. 2022 open enrollment for the state of Indiana, which takes place from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, should be at the top of your mind, especially if your situation applies to one of the following categories:

·      An individual moving off of a guardian’s plan and obtaining their own health insurance

·      An independent contractor or self-employed individual

·      An individual who does not have access to employer sponsored coverage

·      An unemployed or retired individual

·      A new resident of the state of Indiana

·      A person that has been recently released from incarceration

Whether you apply to one of the situations listed above or you are facing another set of common or unique circumstances, each consumer is tasked with determining which insurance plan meets their needs. 

Open enrollment can be stressful for consumers, and the continued presence of COVID-19 adds additional pressures on individuals as they determine the best insurance plan for themselves, their partner and/or their children. CareSource, a nonprofit, multi-state health plan committed to Indiana, would like to help reduce the many frustrations that consumers experience as they navigate the Marketplace. Here are three points to keep in mind as you face open enrollment this year.

(1) Time is of the essence. 

Open enrollment comes around once a year, and there is only a limited time frame allotted to consumers to select a provider and determine a specific plan that best fits their needs and lifestyle. It is encouraged that you begin researching your options sooner rather than later. 

A statewide presence is not always the case for every provider; therefore, consumers should begin their research by determining what providers are available within their specific areas. Once the available providers have been located, you should review insurance premiums and plan benefits. This information is typically outlined on each insurance company’s website. Other factors, such as changes within the government and modifications to health care networks, should also be weighed when making this choice.

(2) Assess your current health and start planning ahead for the future.

COVID-19 sent a ripple effect throughout many of our lives, causing us to become hyper aware of our health and the health of our loved ones. This newfound awareness has resulted in increasing numbers of consumers looking to develop a better understanding of their wellness goals and obligations. A trip to a doctor’s office is where many will begin this journey, and the current status of their health will greatly influence their need for future doctor appointments, prescription medicines and other health services over the course of the next year. 

CareSource offers Marketplace plans to consumers at a gold, silver and bronze level, which are tiered to align with your health requirements. By speaking with your doctor and prioritizing healthy lifestyle changes and choices, you can make an educated decision on which health plan will best fit with your current lifestyle while also being considerate of your budget.

(3) Evaluate your experience with your current plan. If you’re content, stay where you are. 

Switching plans every year can be complicated and confusing, particularly when this change requires you to locate new physicians or enter into a new health care network altogether. Before you make a switch, take some time to reflect over the last year. Begin by evaluating your experience with your current health plan as well as what the next year with this plan could potentially look like. If you’re satisfied, stay where you are and avoid making any unnecessary changes.

If you are exploring other options, take the time to compare your current plan against pending future plans. Identify the key characteristics that stand out and matter most to you. Research each providers’ history, track records and consumer satisfaction rates. In the end, select a plan with a provider that you can trust.