With so many choices to make and so much material to read through during open enrollment, it can be tempting to just sign up for the same benefits you chose last year. However, making wise decisions about your benefits requires planning. By choosing your medical plan and other coverage carefully, you can save a lot of money and frustration down the road.
Check Out All of Your Benefits Options
Employers can offer several benefits options that go far beyond just medical or dental insurance. Flex spending accounts, health savings accounts, disability and life insurance, and legal assistance are just a few of these. To really understand all of your options, you need to set aside some time to research the available plans and talk to your human resources department. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to take full advantage of employer-sponsored benefits!
Follow these tips to make the best benefit decisions for you and your family.
Assess your health and the health of your family members before making any selections. For instance, plans with higher monthly premiums and lower co-payments and deductibles are best for those who will use a lot of health care services over the course of the year. Yet, healthy individuals and families may save a great deal by selecting a plan with low premiums and a high deductible.
Examine how you allocated benefits last year beyond just health care – retirement, dental, flexible spending accounts, etc. If you invested in some of these benefits in the past and did not use them, consider omitting this time around.
Attend all company meetings designed to explain new benefit offerings. These venues are great for learning the ins and outs of new plans and changes to existing plans.
Use plan selection and comparison tools. Your employer may offer a chart or online tool that compares popular plans in an easy-to-read format. Some resources can analyze your claims from the previous year and then determine which plan would be most appropriate in the coming year.
Before selecting a plan, verify that your doctor and hospital of choice are part of the network of health care providers that are covered. If they are not included, you will pay significantly more for their services.
Participate in wellness and disease management programs to not only become healthier, but also to receive potential discounts on your health benefits.
Utilize tax-free benefits such as health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and dependent care spending accounts. These savings vehicles can provide tremendous tax advantages, as contributions are made with before-tax income. Reimbursements from these accounts are also tax-free. They can be used to pay for prescriptions, deductibles and health-related costs that are not covered by your insurance (braces, eye glasses, etc.). HSAs are also a great way to save for future medical costs.
Are you saving enough to be comfortable during retirement? If not, change your retirement plan withholdings. Don’t forget to take advantage of your company match in your retirement account. This is free money for the future.
The best rule of thumb is to make a list of your benefit priorities to determine which plan will serve you best. Then, let the selection process begin.