Everyone can understand health insurance and health care better.

Getting Unstuck When Choosing a Health Plan

December 2, 2013

Good news. More people are successfully accessing, and reviewing their state's health insurance plan options. Not so good news. Some of these people, especially the younger ones and those who never had health insurance, are overwhelmed by the task of choosing a health plan. The number of plans available overwhelms them. They find the plan terminology (e.g., deductible and out-of-pocket maximum) difficult to understand. And they do not know what their actual out-of-pocket costs will be. Fixated on numbers and terminology, they freeze.

Here are two things you can do to get unstuck.
  1. Evaluate your health care needs
One of the main reasons people struggle with choosing a health plan is because they are tempted to skip this step. But skipping this step may result in paying for a plan that provides less of the benefits you need and more of the ones you do not.

When determining your health care needs:

  • List any specific health conditions you have—diabetes, heart disease
  • Consider your lifestyle—do you engage in activities that may increase the likelihood of physical injury
  • Think about medical care you received or needed during the last 12- to 24-months
  • Make a list of prescription drugs you take
  • If possible, talk to your doctor about your projected health care needs for the next 12-months
  • Make a rough estimate of what you spent out-of-pocket for medical care (with or without insurance) in the last 12-monnths
  • Use a free online health risk assessment, like the one from UnitedHealthcare, to evaluate your current health status
  1. Use the Navigation Features on to Narrow Your Options
Once you create an account on and start the application process, you can view the health plan options available. To focus on plans that meet your needs, select specific “Costs” and “Coverage Details” options on the left side of the Enroll page. (View screenshots)

Time to Choose

Purchasing health insurance is one of the least favorite activities for most adults; but it is also one of the most important things you can do for yourself. You can have other people make the purchase decision for you; you can choose the plan with the lowest monthly premium; or you can take the time to evaluate your needs and choose a plan that best meets them at a price you can afford. Get to it on

Purchase a plan by December 23 and your coverage starts January 1, 2014. Also, do not forget that you may be eligible for subsidies to help you pay for coverage.