Don't Choose a Health Care Plan Based Solely on Its Name

When comparing health care plans during this year’s open enrollment period, don’t be enticed by "premium" names and overlook the plans labeled "value." Instead, understand how each works so you can map costs to how you expect to use the benefits.

For example, this year some plans aren’t raising premiums as much but instead increasing patient deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-pocket maximums in order to offset costs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does illustrate why plans need to be carefully examined. This option actually makes sense not only for young and healthy employees who tend to use health care services less often, but also for older folks with conditions that require frequent doctor visits, as they might receive care often enough that they quickly reach the point where all services are fully covered.

So if you are prone to reaching your deductible, do some comparison math; If the difference in premiums for higher-tiered plans doesn’t cover the difference in costs of participating in standard plans, then those "platinum" plans may not really be the best choice.

Burton M. Goldfield President and CEO TriNet San Leandro, Calif.