My spouse just started a new job. Should we switch health insurance plans?

It depends. When it comes to comparing health insurance plans, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, such as cost, levels of coverage, and the types of service offered by each plan.

Your first step should be to compare the premiums you would have to pay for each health plan. Does your employer pay all or part of the premiums for your current health insurance? Or will your spouse’s employer pay more? Obviously, the lower the premium you have to pay, the more attractive the plan.

When it comes to cost, however, premiums aren’t the only factor to consider. You’ll also want to compare the deductibles and co-payments required for each health plan. These payments can end up greatly increasing your out-of-pocket costs. As a result, even if one health plan offers a lower premium, it may end up costing you more in the long run if it has higher deductibles and co-payments.

Next, you should compare the level of coverage that each plan provides–especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Be sure to look at the choice of in-network doctors and specialists that each plan offers. Would switching plans require you to find another primary care physician or specialist? If so, are there any out-of-network options that are available? You’ll also want to find out about the types of coverage offered for specific services, such as rehabilitation and physical therapy. In addition, there may be extras to consider such as vision, dental, mental health, and prescription drug benefits that are offered by one plan but not the other.

And be sure to look at each health insurance plan’s track record when it comes to customer service. Is there typically a long wait time to get through to a representative? Do they usually pay claims in a timely manner?

Finally, keep in mind that if you do decide to switch to your spouse’s plan, you’ll have to stick with your decision until the next open enrollment period (usually in the fall) to make any changes.

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