Are you prepared for this year’s open enrollment season?
Open enrollment is a period when you can elect or change your workplace benefit options, like medical insurance, life insurance, and other job perks, like student loan repayment, legal services, pet insurance, etc.
But while these benefits can offer significant financial and wellness benefits, not many people understand what their employer actually provides. A Voya study found that 35% of people were confused about their company benefits package and 66% want their employer to help them understand the full scope of benefit offerings.
The federal government doesn’t mandate a specific time frame for open enrollment, but most companies keep it open for about two to four weeks near the end of the year.
Why keep track of your company’s open enrollment dates?
It’s the only period you can make changes to your benefits choices, such as:
- Updating coverage
- Changing dependents
- Enrolling in benefits for the first time.
Missing this vital deadline can result in a loss of coverage or an inability to change benefits elections, which can have significant financial consequences for you and your family.
Help protect you and your family by preparing for these 3 important elections this open enrollment season.
#1 Medical Insurance
You don’t want to be caught without coverage during an expensive injury. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more apparent how important it is to have adequate healthcare coverage to deal with unexpected situations.
Ensure The Coverage Fits Your Needs
When choosing health insurance, look for a plan that covers all of your family’s needs. For example, if your child requires a life-saving medication like EpiPens or inhalers, make sure your plan will help cover those costs. You’ll also want to ensure that your plan covers the doctors, specialists, and medication you need to remain healthy.
Since medical costs are rather expensive, many companies offer tax-advantaged savings opportunities to help you prepare for those out-of-pocket expenses, like an HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Saving Account).
HSAs are the more advantageous of the two as you get triple tax benefits, higher annual contribution limits, the ability to invest your contributions, and roll over the funds year over year. But to qualify for an HSA, you must enroll in a high deductible health plan, which could mean higher out-of-pocket costs when you receive care.
No, going to the doctor/dentist/optometrist isn’t exactly “fun,” but regular check-ups enable you to be proactive about your health.
Plus, preventative care coverage can save you and your wallet later on. Check-ups, screenings, and vaccines tend to be completely (or nearly completely) covered under most plans.
Any health problems that go unnoticed take a toll on your body and your savings. Don’t let a hidden injury worsen because you didn’t have preventative care and had to miss a routine check-up.
Another money-saving method is ensuring your medical team accepts your chosen plan; insurers call this being “in-network.” Having insurance means that you pay less for in-network care, even before you meet your deductible. If you have to work with a specialist out of network, you may have to foot more of the bill.
Open Enrollment for 2023 Marketplace health insurance starts November 1. Job-based plans may have different open enrollment periods, so be sure to check with your employer.
Qualifications for Special Enrollment
You may be eligible for enrollment outside the standard enrollment period if you have certain life events, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other health coverage.
Additionally, you can apply and enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time of the year.
#2 Life Insurance
While most insurance policies are about protecting you should something happen, life insurance is really about protecting your loved ones if you pass earlier than anticipated.
Since your family likely relies on your income, planning to replace it is imperative, especially if you have young children (childcare, college costs, raising them, etc.) and significant debt (mortgage, auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.).
Most companies offer group life insurance plans at reasonable rates. You may also be able to purchase supplemental policies for a spouse or dependents, though the coverage limits are often more limited.
Even though you can purchase life insurance through your company, it may also make sense to secure an individual policy outside of your employer. Why? Because if you leave your job, the life insurance policy doesn’t stay with you, and procuring the policy you need could be more expensive the longer you wait.
A good plan could be to get an individual policy that covers most of your needs and supplement it with group plans via your employer.
Do you have enough life insurance? These 6 questions will help you discover the right amount of coverage.
#3 Paid Time Off
Taking time off is essential to your happiness, mental health, and work-life balance.
How can you make the most of your PTO?
- Know how many days you have to use—you may accrue more the longer you’re with the company, so take advantage of that extra time.
- Check out your company’s policy on paying out unused vacation days. How companies handle vacations varies. They may pay you at the end of the year for the vacation you didn’t take, some time might roll over into the following year, or it could be a use-it-or-lose-it benefit.
Plan ahead to ensure that you never have to miss an important family life event, like awards ceremonies, sports games, band concerts, and even sick days. Having extra days in your back pocket allows you to be there for your family when they need you.
Furthermore, research shows that having adequate time off increases your mental and physical well-being. You work hard, so be sure to have sufficient time off to recover and enjoy. You, quite literally, get paid to do so!
Don’t Let Coverage Confusion Delay Your Enrollment
With different plan sizes, various pricing options, and dozens of dotted lines to sign, open enrollment season can quickly feel like a daunting task.
Our experienced team at Chladek Wealth is ready to bring clarity to all of your enrollment questions. We can help you navigate the potential headache of open enrollment season and help you find the right plans to fit your family’s needs.
Make open enrollment a breeze by scheduling a call with us today.
The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes and should not be construed as specific investment, financial planning, tax, accounting, or legal advice. Please consult with a professional advisor before taking any action based on the contents of this article.
All investment and financial planning strategies involve risk of loss that you should be prepared to bear. We cannot guarantee any investment performance whatsoever, and past performance is not indicative of potential future returns.