November is the peak month for employers’ open enrollment for health insurance.  You may have several plan options with your employer and you may have other options through your spouse’s employer. Perhaps you shop on your own in the individual market and its time to renew. How are you going to pick the best plan for you and your family?

Picking the best plan just got a whole lot easier. This year new standard summaries of plan benefits and coverage are available thanks to the health reform law.

That means that even if you’re comparing plans from different insurers or even different employers, the information is set up the same way allowing you to compare your options side-by-side and apples-to-apples. Here’s what the first page looks like (so you know you’re looking at the right thing):

Researchers have suggested that too many consumers stay in the same plan year-after-year due to inertia, not because they conclusively decided it was the best option for them. Don’t let that be you. Take the time to compare your options, especially now that it’s easier to do so.

Definitions of key insurance terms like deductible and out-of-pocket limit. When you get your summary, look for:
  • Plan benefits that are always organized the same way, so you can more easily compare your options.
  •  A list of services that aren’t covered all in one place.
  • A new way of explaining how the plan covers certain medical scenarios, called Coverage Examples —>

We’ve included even more tips in this handy guide to the form.

Got ideas about how to improve your form? We plan to work closely with the federal agencies in charge of this form to improve it even more over time and we are collecting feedback from real consumers like yourself. After you get your copy of the form (not the image above), go to www.SBCFeedback.org to tell us what you think. If you enrolled in health insurance coverage this Fall (but not Medicare) and DIDN’T see this form, we want to know that to.

Please note: you won’t see this form if you’re shopping for Medicare (coverage for seniors and people with disabilities), Military coverage (like TRICARE or Veterans) or state Medicaid and CHIP programs.  These insurers are not required to provide it.