Morning Mix


Mercy Health answers common questions about open enrollment

Posted at 10:40 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 10:41:37-05

November is not only known as the start of the holiday season, but it's also known for open enrollment. But what does the term "open enrollment" really mean?

When it comes time to enroll in a health insurance plan, there are often many questions or misconceptions.

Dr. Kristen Brown, President of Mercy Health Physician Partners, talks through what open enrollment means and which details should not be overlooked when selecting a plan.

Open enrollment is the period of time where you select your health insurance coverage. This is generally the only time, outside of a qualifying life event, when you can add or drop a coverage plan or make changes to your coverage.

The choices you select during open enrollment set up how you will be managing your health care in the coming calendar year. One of the important, but sometimes overlooked, pieces of open enrollment is selecting your Primary Care Provider.

Primary Care is a relationship with a health care provider that is focused on taking care of you with your whole well-being and health history in mind. They are your first contact for undiagnosed health concerns, as well as preventative and continuing care of medical conditions.

PCPs offer a variety of services from annual wellness visits to vaccines and minor surgical procedures. They will also refer you to specialty care when needed.

Primary Care can also be referred to as Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Geriatric Medicine or Pediatric Medicine.

  • Family Medicine physicians provide comprehensive care for people of all ages from newborns to seniors. Some providers may also offer obstetrical care (delivery of babies).
  • Internal Medicine physicians are well trained in primary care services for adult patients (18 years and older). That includes improving overall well-being, ongoing care of chronic disease and comprehensive care for adult patients.
  • Pediatrics physicians focus on young patients from birth to 18 years of age. They possess a thorough understanding of the physiological changes that take place throughout childhood and the unique needs of young patients.
  • Geriatrics physicians offer care to seniors 75 years and older. They seek to identify ways to preserve an individual’s independence and quality of life through the use of medical care, family and community resources.

When choosing a provider, your goal should be to build a lasting relationship. This individual will be your first medical contact and the health provider who knows you best. Some things to consider while select your PCP include:

  • In-Network vs. Out-of-Network
    • Start by referencing your health insurance coverage, which typically publishes a list of providers who are “In-Network.” These providers will offer the best rates and work seamlessly with your health insurance.
  • Meeting Your Needs
    • Narrow down the list of providers in your area by reviewing their health care specialty, education, and experience.
  • Convenience
    • You may want to consider the location of the office and office hours when choosing a provider. The following questions may be helpful when choosing a physician.
  • Would you like the office to be close to work or home?
  • Do you need early or late office hours?
  • Does the office offer online virtual visits?
  • If needed, does the provider offer interpretation services or is the provider bilingual?

To find the best fit for you, we encourage you to research providers by reading online reviews, checking if your health insurer offers quality ratings or asking friends and family for referrals. You can ask to see if the provider is available for a simple meet and greet to assess your comfort level with the individual.

Mercy Health Physician Partners offers over 90 locations in West Michigan. You can search for a provider at

Your wellness visit is an important step in maintaining good health. Taking part in regular screenings, routine preventative care and scheduling visits for minor acute issues can help you get ahead of illnesses and health conditions and help reduce health care costs. 

Find a physician at or 844-BeRemarkable.