Beginning this month, employers across New Jersey are launching their open enrollment periods for workers to choose which type of health insurance coverage they'd like for themselves and their families in 2022.

You're typically given a couple of weeks to make your decision, whether or not you know what you're reading.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 6.5 million New Jersey residents will have the opportunity to choose a health insurance plan for the new year — through their employer, individually, or through Medicare.

The open enrollment period for New Jersey's own health insurance marketplace typically opens on Nov. 1, but it's open now as part of a special move related to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

What to look for

In a conversation with New Jersey 101.5, Paul Marden, health plan CEO for UnitedHealthcare of New Jersey, suggested that consumers will want to pay attention to certain aspects of available plans, depending on their health and specific situation. Here are a few tips, whether you're new to the task or you've been blindly selecting a plan for years.

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Understand your options

"Most people, quite honestly, do not understand how health insurance works with respect to deductible and co-insurance and what they are liable to pay," Marden said.

A quick internet search can easily educate consumers on common and uncommon terms, he added.

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Prescription/future expenses

"Certain medications you may need ... will have a different coverage level, or may not be covered at all," Marden said.

Marden added that individuals with ongoing conditions, or with family members with ongoing conditions, want to keep in mind the type and amount of medical care they may need in 2022.

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Mental health/virtual coverage

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of remote health care has spiked significantly in New Jersey and beyond.

"For a lot of people, it's more convenient, they're going to keep their appointments," Marden said. "Some plans actually have things like express access, where you can get an appointment guaranteed within five days."

According to Marden, virtual care is available through most employer-sponsored plans, individual plans, and Medicare Advantage Plans.

Marden notes that mental health needs to be covered at the same level as physical health.

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Wellness programs/specialty benefits

You may be unaware of the perks available for committing to a healthier life.

Through your employer or plan, you may be offered premium discounts, cash rewards, and other incentives to participate in programs related to goals such as weight loss, smoking cessation and diabetes management.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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