Here's advice from Aon Consulting, eHealthInsurance.com and Miami Herald interviews that may help during open enrollment:
* Consider your options carefully. How much did you spend on healthcare last year? What do you really need? How much risk do you want to take? If you have few health needs, maybe a plan with a low monthly premium and higher deductible is best; or perhaps a health savings account, building for the future with an account that keeps rolling over. If your spouse also gets coverage, see if his/her plan is better than yours for either you and/or children.
Many insurers now have online tools to help you figure out options.
* Go with the flow. Generic drugs, ordering 90-day prescriptions by mail, staying within network all can save you money. As employers and insurers keep working to reduce costs, the penalties for going outside the plan's suggestions will continue to get more expensive.
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* FSAs. The easiest way to save money is through a flexible savings account. Many large employers offer FSAs, which take money out of your paycheck before it can be taxed and put it in an account to pay healthcare expenses.
"You can give yourself a pay raise by using an FSA, " says Bruce Shanfield of Aon Consulting. "It's communicated over and over, but a lot don't understand it. If you know you're going to spend $1,000 out-of-pocket for healthcare next year, sign up for a $1,000 FSA. At a 30 percent tax rate, you're gaining $300 just like that."
* Be proactive. If your employer is offering wellness discounts for gyms, Weight Watchers, smoking cessation or whatever, go for it. The healthier you are, the less you'll pay for healthcare.
* Adult children. Watch out. You may have read that the Florida Legislature last spring passed a provision giving policyholders the option of insuring adult children of employees up to the age of 30, even if they were not in college.
The problem: Insurers aren't sure if the law gives the option to the employers or their employees. "That's a confusing issue, " says Randy Kammer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. "Right now, if there is a request from an employee, we are working with the employer to satisfy the request, but we believe a conflict could occur."
Humana, meanwhile, is "awaiting some key questions to be answered by Florida Office of Insurance Regulation staff in order for us to proceed with implementation, " says spokesman Mitchell Lubitz.
Insurers are hoping the state holds a workshop to resolve the issue. In any case, the law makes no provision that the employer pay any of the adult child's premium: The employee would pay full freight.
* COBRA. If losing your job next year is a possibility and you may be switched to COBRA, consider opting for a cheaper plan because you'll be paying all of the premium yourself when the job is gone.
* Be persistent. If you must go into the individual market for insurance, be sure to be patient and persistent in working your way through the maze of options. Many insurers have tons of information on the Web, which is where you should do your preliminary research, rather than by making phone calls.