For a majority of employers—more than 80%—and their employees, open enrollment has started or is right around the corner. The months of October and November will be filled with meetings and decisions. Here are five tips to help you and your family make better decisions when it comes to choosing your health care and maximize your benefits in 2018:
Look for new options
Understand what is changing, particularly if there are new plan options available. With the impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), rising healthcare costs, and creative new options available to employers, it is critical that employees seek to understand all the new options being offered. Often employees prefer the “keep-me-enrolled-in-what-I-had-last-year” approach. While that might be convenient, you may miss an opportunity to best cover both you and your family. Employers are looking for new a creative ways to offer benefits and you don’t want to miss out on what might be best!
Identify your typical medical needs and expenses
Know your typical and anticipated health care needs. Far too many people don’t do their homework on anticipated expenses and end up over or under insured. This becomes increasingly important as many employers have and continue to shift to High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). These HDHPs are designed to create better health consumers and those who know their needs will make better decisions. (MRI story $2,500 vs $1,500 vs $400).
Leverage your FSA, HSA, or HRA
Consider how you can use or leverage a tax-advantaged account such as a FSA, HSA, or HRA if offered by your employer. You like to pay taxes? Fine, then ignore this advice. These account-based plans and options can save you federal, state, local, and FICA tax. For many that means 25-40% savings on their out-of-pocket costs!
Participate in your company’s wellness program
Ask about wellness programs or ways to earn discounts on the cost of your plans. Your employer wants you to be healthy, happy, and productive. Whatever their motivation, you can benefit. Many employers are now offering participation- and outcomes-based incentives related to wellness and well-being. Be sure you know how to maximize these programs. Your payroll contributions will be lower or your HSA account balances may be higher if you do.
Complete your enrollment form today
It seems simple, but there are far too many stories about employees who got the information, let it sit, and then missed an enrollment deadline. Don’t be that guy or gal. You may lose out on a great benefit.
Want to be sure you and your family are taking full advantage of these tips? In late 2015 I joined Pete the Planner to review some of this information. Take a few minutes and listen to Peter Dunn’s weekly Pete the Planner Radio Show, where I joined him in discussing open enrollment success.
The blog was originally published October 14, 2014.