Many things can change in a year, so when it’s time to renew your health insurance policy, don’t just auto-renew it. You’ll want to make sure you look into all the different options and don’t end up pigeonholing yourself into a policy that no longer works for you. Your circumstances and needs may have changed recently, or perhaps you have a lower income now. Also, plans can change too, and you need to check what you will be getting in the upcoming year, and that your favorite providers are still on the list.

Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you need to reinstate your health insurance policy.

  1. Make sure you enroll early or within the right time period, especially if you’ll be enrolling yourself outside of a company policy. This is particularly important for freelancers and contract workers to keep in mind.
  2. As with all financial endeavors, you’ll want to make sure you do the proper research for quality plans and that you shop around for the care that you and your family need.
  3. Learn all the rules that go with the plan you end up choosing, which means that you also need to understand the limits within your plan. You don’t want to find yourself with a situation where you have a higher copay for the emergency room and then find yourself with a kid that needs an emergency room visit.
  4. Don’t auto-renew each year because you’ll want to see what other options are out there and evaluate if your needs have changed in the coming year. This applies to if you’re a contractor who is signing up for your own insurance policy or if you’re an employee signing up for a plan through your organization.
  5. If you enroll in health insurance through the state marketplace, then there is a risk that your plan might be discontinued. If this happens to you, the insurance provider might try to auto-enroll you in a new plan. Don’t accept this because you’ll want to do your research into what else is available in the marketplace so you get the possible plan for your needs.
  6. In a similar vein, don’t just automatically accept COBRA if you’re offered it. It requires that you pay the full cost of an insurance program if you lose your job, which is often way too expensive. Many times, you can find a better and cheaper option available