Understanding Health Insurance Part 3: How to Select the Best Plan

Welcome to the final post in our 3-part, “Understanding Health Insurance” blog series. We have covered vocabulary and acronyms in parts 1 and 2, and now we are going to tell you how to select the best plan for you!

Finding a good health plan is about balance. How much you are paying per month compared to how much healthcare you think you and your family will need throughout the year. Before selecting a plan, some self-reflection may help.

While it can be hard to know what healthcare expenses to anticipate throughout the year, and therefore what plan to select, you can get a general idea of costs based on previous years. Do you go to the doctor regularly? Do you have a pre-existing condition? Do you anticipate expanding your family this year? All good questions to ask yourself when picking a plan. Answers to these questions, and others, can help you decide between plans that have lower monthly premiums and higher out of pocket costs or higher monthly premiums and lower out of pocket costs. Again, it is all about trying to find the right balance and saving you the most money.

When choosing a health insurance plan start by reading through the summary of benefits. Whether you are signing up for insurance through an employer, the government, or through school, a summary of benefits should be available for you to compare your options. The summary of benefits will explain the costs associated with each plan and what it covers.

Some items to look for when comparing options:

  • Monthly Premiums – How much is this going to cost you per month?
    • Higher premiums might be better if:
      • You see a primary physician or specialist frequently.
      • You frequently need emergency care.
      • You take expensive or brand-name medications on a regular basis.
      • You have a planned surgery coming up.
      • You have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes.
    • Lower premiums might be a better option if:
      • You can’t afford the higher monthly premiums.
      • You’re in good health and rarely see a doctor outside of your yearly visit.
    • Out-of-Pocket Costs – Compare costs such as copays, deductibles, prescription coverage etc. to get a better idea of what healthcare is going to cost you in addition to the monthly premium.
    • Type of Insurance Plan – Refer back to our acronyms cheat sheet. What do your options look like?
    • Provider Network – Do you already have an established network of preferred doctors? If so, check to see if your new plan covers these practitioners. If not, you may need to look at a different plan or start looking for new in-network practitioners.
    • Benefits – What all is included in the plan? Some options may have better coverage and might include things like physical therapy, fertility treatments or mental health care, emergency coverage, etc. What services do you anticipate needing? This might help to narrow down which plan is right for you.

There are lots of things to consider when signing up for a health insurance plan, including health status, dependent status, and budget. What type of coverage you need is going to change throughout your life. Do your research so that you are prepared ahead of enrollment periods to make the best selection for what you need in the moment.

Ohio State students are required to hold some kind of health insurance. If you are an international student, you are required to sign up for insurance through the Student Health Insurance policy. If you are a domestic student enrolled in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours for undergraduates, at least four (4) credit hours for graduate and professional students and at least three (3) credit hours for post-candidacy doctoral students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan. Domestic students have the option to withdraw from the Student Health Insurance plan if they have coverage elsewhere. For more information on Student Health Insurance visit the Student Health Insurance website and read their FAQs page for answers to common questions.


Health Insurance Literacy: Student Health Insurance (osu.edu)

Understanding Health Insurance (medicalbillingandcoding.org)

How to Choose Health Insurance: Your Step-by-Step Guide – NerdWallet

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator

A New Take on the New Year

As the pressure builds to create new habits this time of year, it can be overwhelming to make goals that align with what you truly desire. Diet culture, social media, and even friends and family can push us in the direction of weight loss and dieting. This can encourage quick fixes and fad diets that – let’s be honest – don’t work. Making realistic goals using Intuitive Eating can help you form a healthy relationship with food, your mind, and your body.What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is an approach to health and eating that focuses on listening to your body’s needs and making choices to honor what it is telling you. It teaches you to understand physical cues like hunger and satisfaction and grants you freedom to let your body be your guide. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating include:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  6. Feel Your Fullness
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

5 Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions Using Intuitive Eating

  1. Find Joyful Movement Instead of Strict Exercise – Focus less on the hours spent at the gym and experiment with movements that you feed good and enjoy doing. Try a yoga class or join a local kickball team with a friend.
  2. Clean Your Social Media Feed – Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger comparison feelings or make you feel bad about yourself. Follow people who empower and inspire you and encourage your same values.
  3. Buy Clothes That Fit – The thought of buying bigger clothes can be scary but wearing clothes that are too tight or uncomfortable can make body image worse. Donate clothes that don’t fit your here-and-now body and stop overanalyzing sizes. Remember, the clothes are supposed to fit you, not the other way around.
  4. Develop Other Coping Mechanisms – Emotions are normal and part of what makes us human. Food and exercise are common outlets people turn to cope with emotions, but they can be taken to extremes. Create a list of alternative activities you can do when you feel triggered by an emotion, like calling a friend, going for a walk, or painting.
  5. Shift the Language – Stop labeling food as ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Morality has no place in food, and this practice will just increase feelings of shame and guilt. The next time you notice yourself labeling food as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘guilt-free,’ try reframing your thoughts using neutral terms like colorful, satisfying, or fueling.

Adopting Intuitive Eating can give you a sense of peace and freedom. Food is meant to be eaten; our bodies are meant to be fueled. Reframing the way you approach your health and wellness goals can positively impact your likelihood of making long term changes.

To learn more about Intuitive Eating, schedule a free nutrition coaching appointment or participate in the Intuitive Eating Workshop Series.

-Janele Bayless, Wellness Coordinator


What Are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating (And How They Can Help You)

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating


Cut Back on Holiday Gifting Stress – 5 Es of Sustainable Gift Giving

The holiday season is officially upon us with Thanksgiving quickly passing and Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa just around the corner!

This time of year can bring so much joy, from seeing friends and family to getting a break from school work it is a much needed relaxation vacation in the middle of the academic year. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings about stress and waste.

From wrapping paper, shopping bags and cards to food waste and unnecessary gifts – a lot gets thrown away this time of year. Research shows that on average Americans throw away 25%-43% more trash during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) than any other time of year. This combined with the stress of needing to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, can counteract all the good vibes we just mentioned above.

To practice some financial and environmental wellness this season, practice the 5 Es of sustainable gift giving:

  • Embrace Local Shopping
    • While purchasing gifts online is convenient, shipping costs contribute to waste this time of year. The longer the trip, the more of an impact. Contribute to your community and shop the old-fashioned way – in a store preferably a locally owned one. And don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
  • E-Gift Cards
    • Gift card giving gets a bad rep but why not give someone the gift of buying something they really want for themselves. Keep in mind, plastic gift cards contribute to a significant amount of waste in this country. If you choose to go to gift card route, opt for a paper or digital gift card to cut back on waste.
  • Experiences
    • We all have that person on our shopping list who has EVERYTHING. Instead of buying an item just because, choose to gift them an experience instead. There are so many fun and unique experiences to take part in but also thinking practically works too. Options – cooking classes, museum tickets, concerts, spa treatments, summer pool passes, the list goes on!
  • Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper
    • Wrapping paper is a large contributor to the waste generated over the holidays. Skip the wrap and instead opt to package gifts in reusable bags, cloth wrapping ‘paper,’ tote bags, or mason jars. If you plan your gift right, you can even make the wrap part of the experience! Example – wrapping a book in a scarf.

*If you are at a party with lots of wrapping paper and bags, be sure to gather what can be recycled and save gift bags for next year!

  • Evaluate Gift List
    • An easy way to save is by skipping individual gifts and convince your group to host a ‘White Elephant’ or ‘Secret Santa’ instead. This gives everyone the opportunity to by 1 gift instead of 7 (or more), saving everyone a little extra cash and cutting back on unnecessary gift giving. If your group is not open to the gifting games, create a list of who you are shopping for and how much you plan on spending. Create budget off of this list to keep your spending under control.

Don’t let the financial and environmental stressors of gifting ruin your holiday season. Remembering this time of year is about so much more than gifts. It is spending time with those we love and being grateful for what and who we do have in our lives.



Prevent Waste During the Holidays | SCDHEC

Holiday Waste Prevention: How Much a Typical Person Generates – Brightly

A Guide to Sustainable Gift-Giving – Life with Less (life-with-less.com)


-Jordan Helcbergier (she/her), Wellness Coordinator

Normalizing the Talk about Money

Growing up, did you ever receive messages that talking about money was rude, inappropriate, or disrespectful? Because of these beliefs, talking about money can sometimes feel uncomfortable – but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Talking about money shouldn’t be taboo or shameful. Often when we talk about financial challenges and stress we tend to focus on the individual. However, this doesn’t consider other influential factors like economic inequality, wealth disparities, and discrimination. We don’t all start out at the same place, and we don’t always have access to the same resources and information. One way to help learn more about financial wellness is to talk about it! 

Although it is not a comprehensive list, here are some reasons to talk about money: 

  • Having conversations about money can allow friends and family to share knowledge, strategies, resources, and experiences. Maybe you’ll learn a new budgeting tool or investment strategy! 
  • Talking about money can help destigmatize debt. Due to the high cost of college and graduate/professional school, it is necessary for many students take out student loans to be able to afford pursuing their degree(s). In 2015, approximately 65% of Ohio State graduates had student loans (Farkas, 2019). If you have student loans, or other forms of debt, you are not alone.  
  • Awareness of income and salary information can help with negotiations. If you know what your peers with similar qualifications are making in similar roles, you’ll have a better understanding of what to reasonably ask for. Additionally, sharing salary information with coworkers and friends can help to ensure that people are being paid fairly and equitably. 
  • Discussing expenses such as the cost of services or rent openly can help establish a baseline understanding of average costs. This understanding can help you save money in the long run! 

If you have financial questions or would like additional support relating to your financial wellness, the Student Wellness Center’s free Scarlet and Gray Financial Coaching is a peer-to-peer service that can provide you with financial education and help you set goals.  

Additional Financial Resources 


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

Basic Needs Insecurity

Get the facts on basic needs insecurity: Answering 3 key questions about basic needs insecurity on college campuses (content warning

What is basic needs insecurity? 

Basic needs refer to the everyday things that people need to survive and lead healthy, fulfilled lives. These necessities include nutritious food, safe and secure shelter, water, and personal care items. Other examples of basic needs can include access to technology, transportation, healthcare, childcare, and more. 

Barriers to accessing basic needs security are rooted in oppression and discrimination, not individual behaviors or factors. As a result, underserved and under-resourced communities are more likely to experience basic needs insecurity. 

Why is it important to talk about basic needs insecurity on college campuses? 

Meeting basic needs is foundational for health and wellbeing. For example, if a student hasn’t eaten, doesn’t know where their next meal will come from, or doesn’t have a safe place to return home to, it can understandably be extremely hard to focus on coursework, extracurriculars, and other college experiences.  

Students should be able to thrive and focus on their education, wellness, and personal development while in school. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that many students struggle with basic needs insecurity on a regular basis. 

Many students experiencing general basic needs insecurity struggle with food insecurity, housing insecurity, and even homelessness, all while trying to juggle classes, jobs, and other responsibilities. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 58% of students reported experiencing basic needs insecurity. 14% of students reported experiencing homelessness. 

Most students experiencing basic needs insecurity are employed, typically in low-wage positions. Students experiencing basic needs insecurity also tend to work more hours per week. 

Students of color, students with children, LGBTQ+ students, and first-generation students all experience disproportionate rates of basic needs insecurity.  

What is the impact of experiencing basic needs insecurity? 

Students experiencing basic needs insecurity are more likely to struggle with academic performance. They are also more likely to experience negative mental and physical health outcomes. Specifically, students experiencing basic needs insecurity may experience higher levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. Overall, there are a variety of implications for students’ health and wellbeing. 

To summarize… 
  • Basic needs insecurity is widespread on college campuses 
  • Basic needs insecurity disproportionately affects students from under-resourced communities 
  • Basic needs insecurity has a major impact on student health and wellbeing 

If you or someone you know is experiencing food and/or basic need insecurity, Buckeye Food Alliance (BFA), the on-campus food pantry, is available to all students. BFA does not require proof of need and does not collect any financial information. Students only need a valid BuckID to access the pantry. BFA is located in Lincoln Tower, Suite 150. BFA is currently offering online ordering and can be reached at 614-688-2508. The Student Advocacy Center also offers financial assistance, including the Student Emergency Fund. 


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant 

Is social media impacting your financial wellness?

You probably already know that too much time on social media can affect your emotional wellness, but have you ever considered how it affects your financial wellness?  

With features like saving your credit card information on your devices, express checkout with Apple Pay and Facebook Marketplace or Instagram’s shopping feature, you are overloaded with many easy ways to spend and make purchases. Couple the accessibility with personalized advertisements, social media influencers and Tiktok trends, it’s hard to avoid unnecessary spending.  

With social media use and engagement only continuing to rise, it is important to understand how social media is affecting your spending and how you can make positive changes.  

  • Understand your current financial situation: Deleting social media isn’t the end goal, you just need to understand your current financial situation and how you are preparing for your financial future. Create a weekly or monthly budget to understand what you can and can’t spend and what you need. When looking to make a purchase from social media you can see if it aligns with your budget.  
  • Spend smarter: Try making a “wish list” for items you see on social media that you want to buy. Set a time frame, 48 hours or even a week. If you still want the item after your set time you can easily track it down on your wish list.  This timeframe will allow you to think more critically about the purchase and create the habit of spending on things you genuinely want or need.  
  • Influence your feed: Follow accounts that encourage your financial goals. Follow trusted accounts or hashtags who promote financial well-being. These accounts will provide positive reinforcement when navigating advertising or your friends post on social media.  

Looking to talk with a peer who can relate to the impact social media has on financial wellness? Schedule a free Financial Coaching session. Offered by the Student Life Student Wellness, trained peer financial coaches provide one-on-one coaching on the topics of budget creation and management, credit cards, student loans, and more. Learn more by visiting the Student Wellness Center website.  

Emotional Spending

We’re not immune to the “treat yourself” mindset. After a rough day do you find yourself buying something new or enjoying an extra nice meal? When in moderation, this type of spending can help with coping with the stress of everyday life. When we end up relying on purchases to lift our moods it becomes a concern known as “emotional spending”. 

Emotional spending is a behavior that causes people to spend money whenever they experience negative or positive feelings, generally to fill an emotional need.  While there is a short-term mental health benefit to spending, too much emotional spending can impact your financial well-being and lead to increased stress. 

Most emotional spending is a pattern of behavior. When you start to recognize the behaviors, you can in turn disrupt them. Some behaviors may include:   

  • Spending beyond your means 
  • Withdrawing from conversations about money because it makes you anxious 
  • Accumulating more items during a stressful period  
  • Impulse buying  

Changing behavior takes time but there are strategies and alternatives you can try to prevent emotional spending. Strategies include: 

  • Make a weekly or monthly budget to help pre-allocate your finances. Free Financial Coaching through the Student Wellness Center can help. 
  • Limit the use of credit cards and removing stored card information to make it less easy to make a purchase from your phone/computer/tablet 
  • Limit exposure to ads on social media by reducing screen time 
  • Create a waiting period when making purchases. If you want something in the moment, see if you still want it in a few days? 
  • Talk to a Wellness Coach to identify positive coping mechanisms  

The Student Life Student Wellness Center offers free peer to peer coaching services. You can meet with a Financial Coach to discuss budgeting, credit cards, student loans, and more. Wellness Coaching serves provides stress management techniques, goal setting, communication strategies and more to improve your emotional wellness. Learn more and schedule a session by visiting the Student Wellness Center website.  

Financial Peer Pressure

FOMO! The fear of missing out can occur when it comes to not attending social events or activities with friends. That fear can be even worse when the event costs money. You must remember, everyone’s current financial state and goals are unique to them and if you must decline an offer due to finances, are you prepared to discuss with your friends? 

Start the conversation with your friends by using one of these strategies:  

  • Be Truthful: Your friends will understand. You don’t need to go into details but letting them know you cannot afford an activity or event due to the price is acceptable.  
  • Suggest an alternative: What are other low-cost or free opportunities you can take advantage of to have a good time with friends. OUAB and d-tix are a great place to start.  
  • Use a goal: “Thanks but I’m saving for a study abroad trip”  

You may feel bad about having to decline events or tell your friends no, but ultimately you are taking charge of your financial wellness. Real friends will understand.  

Don’t forget that budgets are made to be flexible too. If you’ve done the hard work to ensure that you have savings, an emergency fund and a good budget, you may want to indulge in something that pushes your budget a bit. Is it a once in a lifetime opportunity or an experience you’ll never forget? It may be worth it for the memories and that is money well spent.  

Looking to learn more about budgeting, credit cards, student loans or other financial topics? The Student Life Student Wellness Center offers free, peer-to-peer, financial coaching. You can learn more and schedule an appointment online by visiting the Student Wellness Center website 

Investment Mania  

Whether it is social distanced boredom leading people to chase thrills or the next tulip mania, investing is having a pop culture moment. The advent of Robinhood, a free trading platform, has introduced the gamification of stock trading into our national consciousness. This has never been evident than this winter’s Gamestop phenomenon that left some investors retire early and others losing thousands, if not millions, of dollars. This event has left many people with the mistaken impression that investing has to be complicated and time consuming.  Luckily with modern technology, investing has never been easier.  

  • Clearly define your goals.  What and when are you saving for?  Most American investors are saving with retirement as their goal.  If that’s the case for you be sure to understand the benefits of tax advantaged retirement accounts like 401ks and IRAs.  If you plan to invest outside of these accounts, familiarize yourself with how gains are taxed. 
  • Start as early as possible.  The best tool available to young investors is compound interest – that is investment gains from one period earning interest on themselves in subsequent years.  If you started to save $100 a month at age 25 it would be worth around $230,000 at retirement.  If you waited until 35, despite investing just $12,000 less, your investment would only be worth $95,000.  
  • Understand the financial products that make investing simple.  You don’t have to go out and choose individual stocks to purchase.  Products like mutual funds and index funds allow you to pool money with thousands of other investors to purchase hundreds or thousands of different stocks or bonds to take advantage of the market as a whole and avoid losing money on any single stock.  Though the market has historically gone up over time, it does sometimes lose value in dramatic fashion.   
  • If this all seems a bit overwhelming a very simple option is a target date fund.  These are funds of many other funds tied to a specific date, usually when you’d like to retire, that automatically adjust as your goal date approaches.  

-Graduate and Professional Student, Scarlet and Gray Financial

Cooking (and Saving Money) on a College Budget 

College can feel stressful and overwhelming at times which can make dining out or ordering food appealing and convenient; however, the cost can add up! Check out the cost of homecooked meals versus their counterparts at various restaurants for examples, along with tips and ideas for how to save money by making your own food.   

Pad Thai 

With chicken, rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, and peanut sauce  – Makes 4 servings 

  Tai’s Asian Bistro  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $10.95  $14.48 
Cost per Serving  $5.48  $3.62 

 Pasta Bowl 

With breaded chicken, marina sauce, chickpeas, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, tomato, and parmesan cheese  – Makes 5 servings 

  Piada  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $9  $14.13 
Cost per Serving  $4.50  $3.68 

Chipotle-Style Burrito Bowl  

Using frozen grilled chicken, canned black beans, mild salsa, cheese, fajita veggies, and guacamoleMakes 2 servings 

  Chipotle  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $9.60  $6.23 
Cost per Serving  $4.80  $3.11 

Cheese pizza 

Using a crust mix, stewed tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and oreganoMakes 4 servings 

  Donatos  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $5.29  $2.93 
Cost per Serving  $5.29  $0.73 

Bibimbap-Inspired Bowl 

With white rice, soy-seasoned tofu, fried egg, kale, carrots, cucumber, green onions, chili garlic sauce, and kimchi  – Makes 2 servings 

  Bibibop  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $8.29  $4.12 
Cost per Serving  $4.15  $2.06 


With salmon, edamame, avocado, carrots, onion, cucumbers, black sesame seeds, and yum yum sauce  – Makes 4 servings 

  Fusian  Home 
Cost per Recipe  $9.00  $16.04 
Cost per Serving  $9.00  $4.01 

Tips for Cooking on a Budget

  • Join a grocery store rewards program. Membership is often free and requires only a phone number or email address to join. Depending on the store, coupons may be automatically applied to your total as you shop. 
  • Download a budgeting app. Tracking your spending on groceries and other items may be easier with an app like Mint, PocketGuard, or Goodbudget. 
  • Find and bookmark affordable recipes. Cooking healthy meals does not have to be costly. For budget-friendly recipes, try BudgetBytes$5 Dinnersand Frugal Nutrition. 
  • Depending on preference, try store brands instead of name brands. Many stores sell generic versions of foodstuffs which taste just as good. Saving a few cents here and there adds up and results in significant savings over time.  
  • Don’t fear the canned and frozen food aisles. Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious options when shopping on a budget. If you’re concerned about sodium or added sugars in canned foods, you can rinse off fruits, beans, and vegetables.  
  • Stock your cabinets, fridge, and freezer with staple foodstuffs which you plan to use often. Examples of foods to have on hand include cooking oil, frozen or canned vegetables, grains such as pasta, rice, and quinoa, condiments and sauces such as soy or mustard, spices such as salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  

-Graduate Professional Student