Experts stress doing your research on insurance providers and doctors

INDIANAPOLIS - Open enrollment can get confusing - especially with the recent glitches on HealthCare.gov. Rather than letting the Dec. 23 deadline pass you by, use Angie’s List tips to navigate the insurance sea.

The health care overhaul was meant to put consumers in the driver’s seat. So now, it’s more important than ever to do your research.

"Taking advantage of the open enrollment period is a time for you to evaluate what your insurance covers and make sure you assess needs you are going to have over the next year," Angie’s List’s Angie Hicks said.

When Charlie Klumpp of Lafayette turned 65, she found out her doctor didn’t accept Medicare.

She was forced to pay out-of-pocket and learned to always check with the doctor’s office before scheduling an appointment.

"I called, talked to the business offices and said, ‘I am a Medicare patient. That's my primary. I have a secondary insurance. Will you file that for me? Do you have any concerns about taking on an additional Medicare patient?’" Klumpp said.

Angie’s List said the best policy is to ask all questions that come to mind.

"While you are evaluating insurance, have a conversation with your doctor, especially if you're in the midst of a longer term treatment plan to be sure that you are still going to be covered," Hicks said.

And don’t assume the plan and policy that you had this year will cover all your needs in years to come.

"People know they need it and know they have to get it, per the new laws, but they don't have an idea of exactly what they are looking for," Heartland Family Benefits spokesman Jacob Gorden said.

If you don’t understand how last year’s premiums and out-of-pocket expenses compare to this year’s options, ask an insurance broker.

Brokers are compensated by the insurance company themselves, so there are no fees or service charges to work with a broker.

Angie’s List warns: If you choose to work with an independent agent, make sure they have the necessary credentials. Requirements may vary by state.

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