By: WageWorks, Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
Open Enrollment is a time of year reserved just for you! It’s your opportunity to ensure you have the best possible benefits coverage for you and your family. During Open Enrollment you can:
- Review the options available through your employer’s benefits package
- Enroll or re-enroll in programs that can save you money
- Change or add to existing benefits
- Minimize out-of-pocket costs for the year to come
The timeframe varies by employer, so ask your HR representative or benefits administrator when Open Enrollment is scheduled.
Why Open Enrollment Matters
This is your one chance each year to:
Select the benefits that are best for you.
Take time to educate yourself and evaluate all of your benefits options. Look at your current benefit elections and ask yourself:
- How well does my current plan fit my needs?
- Does it cover the services I need?
- Is there another type of plan that’s better suited for my healthcare, lifestyle or budget?
Consider additional ways to save on healthcare, dependent care and commuter costs.
Consumer-Directed Benefits, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs),Dependent Care FSAs and Commuter Benefits, provide a tax break and an easy way to manage every day, eligible expenses.
Plan ahead for your needs in the coming year.
Look at last year’s expenses as a starting point, then think about your 2017 expenses:
- Are you anticipating big out-of-pocket expenses in the coming year?
- Are you planning to expand your family?
- Will you commute to work?
The answers to these questions should help guide your decision-making.
Take Your Time and Choose Wisely
Open Enrollment takes place over an extended time period for a reason: Evaluating and weighing your options takes time. Don’t rush the process. Skimming information or simply choosing to re-enroll in the benefits can cost you money. You may be losing out on new and better plans and valuable savings. Avoid common mistakes by following these four steps:
Know What’s Available
If you’re married, review benefits offered by your spouse’s employer, and compare your benefits options with those offered to your spouse. If you have separate coverage, does it make sense for both of you to be on one plan? When evaluating Consumer-Directed Benefits, such as a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA), keep in mind pre-tax funds you set aside can also be used to pay for eligible expenses for you and your eligible family members.
Resist a Passive Opt-In
If your employer has a “passive” Open Enrollment—allowing you to renew your plans automatically—that doesn’t mean you should do so. Take time to review plan details as there may be significant changes in coverage or premiums from year to year. There may be additional coverage possibilities, and contribution limits for some Consumer-Directed Benefits may not be the same.
Check out All Pre-Tax Benefits
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Commuter Benefits allow you to pay for eligible expenses with pre-tax dollars, resulting in significant savings. Pre-tax benefits are a great way to pay for a wide variety of eligible expenses, such as copays, prescriptions, childcare and getting to and from work via public transportation. When you take advantage of these benefits, your annual take-home pay is more than if you pay for the same expenses on a post-tax basis.
Do the Math
Evaluating the costs and savings opportunities of benefits pays off in the long run. What are you paying per paycheck for healthcare, dental and vision premiums? What are your expected out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the coming year? How much is the deductible? You may discover that a high-deductible health plan, if offered by your employer, is a more affordable option, particularly if a Health Savings Account (HSA) is offered as well.
Keep these tips in mind as you head into Open Enrollment, and you’ll be well prepared to make the best decisions.
Save the Dates
Keep an eye out for emails and other communications with details on benefits plans and Open Enrollment deadlines. Note the dates in your calendar and RSVP for any related meetings, if needed. If your employer offers webinars, lunch and learns or other enrollment events, plan to participate to prepare for a successful Open Enrollment.