Healthcare enrollement underway

Monday, October 17, 2011 - 11:20am

Open enrollment's underway, meaning millions of Americans are reviewing and selecting their health benefits for the next year.

With more provisions of healthcare reform kicking in, consumers might be pleasantly surprised by what they're now entitled to free of charge.

"Valuable preventive services for free, no deductible, no co-pays, no nothing. It's paid 100% by insurance, no matter what kind of plan you have," said Consumer Reports Nancy Metcalf.

Preventive procedures that include, immunizations for children, colonoscopies for 50-somethings, mammograms for women and even cholesterol tests.

Websites like or the one from consumer reports offer advice on how best to navigate health insurance plans.

"Just understand the basic details of your plan and if you don't understand the document that you've gotten, call your employee benefits people, make them explain it to you," explained Metcalf.

Experts say look for incentive-based wellness programs many companies are promoting that reward employees for making healthy choices.

That can also help decide how much pre-tax money to put into flex or health savings accounts.

"Whatever those things are that you can anticipate for that are going to be out of pocket costs that are going to be covered under the law," said Senior Vice President of United Healthcare Yasmine Winkler.

Above all, they say, know your policy.

"You don't want to be figuring that stuff out when you're on a stretcher in the emergency room," said Metcalf.

Much of the advice applies to those enrolling for Medicare, too.

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