Choosing health insurance, whether your employer offers it or you’re buying it yourself, can be complicated. If your employer offers health insurance, you may have more than one plan to choose from, all with different premiums, copayments, benefits and deductibles. It’s the same with health insurance exchanges, in which five levels of insurance are offered: catastrophic (generally available only if you’re younger than 30), bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The more precious the metal, the higher the premiums and the lower the out-of-pocket costs, like copayments and deductibles. Although studies find that we tend to choose health insurance based on the monthly premium, that should be just one component in your decision. To ensure you have the right health insurance for you, consider the following questions. How much have I spent out of pocket this year? Costs include your insurance premium, meeting your deductible, and any copayments and coinsurance, including those for prescription drugs. Interestingly, one study found that although we’re more likely to choose health insurance based on the premium, we’re far more concerned about unpredictable costs, like copayments for doctor visits and prescription drugs. So ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the amount you spent, or if it’s stressing your budget (and you). If it’s the latter, you might want to consider a plan with a lower deductible and copayments. Pro: Lower out-of-pocket costs and ability to better budget for healthcare expenses Con: Higher premium Do I like my doctors? If you have an HMO or PPO, you likely have a limited network of healthcare professionals. Going out of network will cost you more—or might not even be covered. If seeing whatever doctor you want and choosing hospitals is important to you, you might want to consider switching to a plan that has a wider network. Pro: The freedom to go wherever you want for healthcare Con: Higher premiums and/or out-of-pocket costs Does my plan cover everything I need? Although health insurance plans typically cover most medical and preventive care, they may not cover “extras,” such as infertility treatments. If you know you’ll need services that aren’t covered next year, consider switching. Pro: The services you need will be covered. Con: You may spend more for a plan that covers these “extras.” Hint: Add up the cost of the service itself compared with the additional cost for the health plan to see if the plan is worth it. Am I happy with my plan’s policies, procedures, and customer service? For instance, is it fairly easy to appeal a denial or charge? Can you get a live person on the phone who can answer your questions? Do you have to jump through a lot of hoops—like needing referrals to see a specialist? If you’re unhappy with the service you receive, you might consider switching. Do your homework and research customer service reviews and policyholder experiences from more expensive plans. Pro: Less frustration and better service Con: The new plan might have the same problems. Healthcare costs are one of the biggest expenses in a family’s budget these days. Make sure the health coverage you have meets your needs—or find another. Key Takeaways When choosing health insurance, consider how much you’ve spent out of pocket this year. You may prefer a plan with a lower deductible and copayments even if the premium is higher. If visiting whatever doctor or hospital you want is important to you, look to a plan that has a wider network. Consider, too, whether your plan covers services you’re likely to need, such as infertility treatment.