It’s time for one of the most confusing, frustrating rituals of the year: health care open enrollment. Over the coming weeks and months, people across the country will consider questions that we try to avoid the other 11 months of the year: Is it better to have a high premium and a low deductible, or the other way around? How are you supposed to guess how much money to put in a flexible spending account? Does dental insurance actually, you know, do anything? Please remind me, what is “coinsurance” again?
The whole annual ordeal raises a bigger question, too: Why is all of this so complicated?
It turns out that understanding open enrollment goes a long way to helping understand the convoluted American health insurance system. The choices you face at this time of year about next year’s insurance plans are the result of quirks in the tax code and accidents of history. Nobody would build a health care system this way on purpose. But it’s the one that, for now, we’re stuck with. We hope these stories help you navigate the choices you face — while helping you understand why they exist in the first place.
— Libby Nelson
Editorial Lead: Libby Nelson | Editors: Meredith Haggerty, Alanna Okun | Reporters: Dylan Scott, Emily Stewart, Allie Volpe | Style & Standards: Tanya Pai, Caity PenzeyMoog, Kim Eggleston, Elizabeth Crane, Sarah Schweppe, Anouck Dussaud | Art Director: Paige Vickers | Illustrator: Sebastian König | Audio: A. Hall, Jonquilyn Hill, Sofi LaLonde | Audience Lead: Shira Tarlo | Managing Editors: Natalie Jennings, Nisha Chittal | Special Thanks: Blair Hickman, Andrew Losowsky, Sam Hankins, Amani Orr