Open enrollment season is here: Give your benefits a check-up

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Open enrollment season is your annual opportunity to review your employer-provided benefit options and make elections for the upcoming plan year.

Review your health plan options
Even if you’re satisfied with your current health plan, compare your existing coverage to other plans. Premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and benefits often change from year to year.

Tips for reviewing your health coverage:

  1. Get educated — Read plan materials to understand your options. Look for a “What’s New” section that spells out plan changes.
  2. List your expenses — These will vary from year to year, but what you’ve spent over the course of the last 12 months may be a good predictor of what you’ll spend next year. Include co-payments, deductibles, dental, vision, and prescription drug expenses.
  3. Reevaluate your coverage — Take into account life changes such as getting married, having a baby, or retiring.
  4. Consider all out-of-pocket expenses — Look at more than just premiums. If you frequently fill prescriptions, you may save money with a plan that offers the broadest prescription drug coverage with the lowest co-payments, even if it charges a higher premium.
  5. Compare coverage to your spouse’s — If he or she is eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance, consider if you would come out ahead if you switch to his or her plan. If you have children, which plan best suits their needs?
  6. Take advantage of technology — Some employers offer calculators or tables that allow you to do a side-by-side comparison of health plans to help select the best option.

Decide whether to contribute to a flexible spending account
You can help offset your health-care costs by contributing pretax dollars to a health flexible spending account (FSA), or reduce your child-care expenses by contributing to a dependent-care FSA. You can use these tax-free dollars to pay for health-care costs not covered by insurance or for dependent-care expenses. Estimate your expenses for the upcoming year in order to decide how much to contribute (subject to limits).

New rule
Due to a change in the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule, employers may now allow participants to roll over $500 of health FSA funds that are unused at the end of one plan year to the next year. Review your employer’s materials to see whether this change applies to you. 

Find out what other benefits and incentives are available
Many employers offer other voluntary benefits including dental, vision, disability, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. Even if your employer doesn’t contribute toward the premium cost, you may be able to conveniently pay premiums via payroll deduction.

Find out whether your employer offers other discounts or incentives. Common options are discounts on health-related products and services, such as gym memberships and eyeglasses, or wellness incentives, such as a monetary reward for completing a health assessment.

Get the information you need
Ask your benefits administrator for help if you have any questions about your benefits, the options available to you, or enrollment instructions and deadlines.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.

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