Open enrollment is often time-consuming and confusing for employees, but these choices can
make a huge financial impact. We always suggest that HR share the following advice with
employees to help prepare them for the upcoming enrollment season:
Take your time
Take time to really read through the enrollment materials you receive. If you are invited to a face-to-face meeting, make time to attend. It's possible you'll be offered different plan options and coverages this year. The better you understand the changes, the better decisions you'll make.
Take a trip down memory lane
Think back to what happened in your life this year. How often
did you and your family members need medical services? What kind? Are any treatments
ongoing? Think about any life changes that could affect the benefits you need, like a marriage
or divorce, a child going off to college, or a spouse changing jobs.
Consider what the next year will look like for you and your family. Are you planning
to have a baby? Knee replacement surgery? A root canal? Does someone need braces? New
glasses? Keep this in mind as you look at your coverage options.
Dive into the details
It's important to note whether the plans' provider networks have changed.
Make sure your doctors are still in-network. Is your chiropractor also covered? Does the plan
cover orthodontics? Is your spouse's daily prescription drug covered, and did the coverage
change? Also consider areas of need like access to specialists, mental health care, therapies,
complementary and alternative medicine, and chronic care. Look at the options offered in all
plans, including health, dental, vision and disability.
Get out your calculator
Add up the amount you'll need to pay toward your health premium plus
deductibles, co-payments (flat-dollar amounts) for prescriptions and doctor office visits, and
co-insurance (a percentage of the cost you'll pay) for services. Understand what you'll be asked
to pay if you seek care outside your network. This will give you a clearer picture of how much
you're likely to spend. The plan that looks to be the cheapest option may not really be the
cheapest for you.
Determine what's right for you
Consider your comfort level with risk. If you want your family to
be covered for every eventuality, a more traditional plan, if one is offered, might be right for you.
If you're comfortable taking on some upfront costs, a high-deductible plan with a lower premium
might be your plan of choice.
Take advantage of extras
Your employer may offer the option to reduce your health premiums
in exchange for your participation in a wellness program or health-risk assessment. It may
match some or all of the money you save in your 401(k) plan. It might let you set aside
tax-deferred money into a health savings account or flexible spending account. Also, check with
your employer to see if it offers voluntary insurance with a group discount and payroll deduction
for premiums—like critical-illness, pet, auto and homeowners coverage. If these options work for
your situation, sign up.
Don't be shy about asking your HR or benefits department to explain something
if you're not sure. They're there to help and want you to make the best decisions for your
Taking the time upfront to carefully choose the best options will help employees better manage
their finances throughout the year, alleviating stress and promoting productivity.
For more information or help with your employee benefits, please contact Jack Crain at
BenefitsTexas. Email: email@example.com