5 tips for open enrollment
You see the poster in the company break room inviting you to attend an “Open Enrollment Education Session.” Yes, it’s that time of year when you are asked to review your benefit options and sign up for next year’s offerings.
Kimberly Dwyer, Vice President of Benefit Services at Advocate Health Care, offers 5 tips to make the process easier.
- Your biggest decision is choosing a health plan.
It’s one of the biggest open-enrollment decisions: Which health plan should I pick? It’s also one of the more complicated ones, since your choice depends on multiple factors. How often do you go to the doctor? Do you have new dependents to cover, like a baby? Are your prescriptions covered? Dwyer says there’s more to your health care expense picture than just your monthly premium. “You also need to factor in your deductible, copay, coinsurance, total out-of-pocket limits, and out-of-network coverage. And regardless of which type of health plan you pick, find the time to double-check that your doctors, specialists and preferred hospitals are still covered by your chosen network. Sometimes employers offer a high quality narrow network, so be sure to consider your healthcare needs and decide what’s best for you and your family.”
Additionally, sometimes employers may offer “decision-support” tools, like Jellyvision, that can help you make those important decisions.
- Find Out What Vision and Dental Benefits Are Optional
Dwyer says to find out if your employer also offers vision and dental coverage. “Some health insurance plans may incorporate these benefits already, but if they don’t, you may be able to elect a standalone plan. For vision insurance, ask if your company’s medical plan offers vision coverage before you pursue vision benefits. Many standalone vision plans offer some services, but are predominantly discounts.”
And, when it comes to dental insurance, using an in-network provider will buy you more coverage.
- Don’t Leave Retirement Money on the Table
Open enrollment is a good time to review your retirement contributions. “If your employer offers a 401(k) match, check to see if you are contributing enough to maximize that match. One in four employees doesn’t take full advantage of this benefit and leaves potential retirement money on the table each year,” says Dwyer.
- There are “Other” Insurance Options
There are other types of coverage your company may offer that could help protect your income, life and disability insurance. “If you have a spouse, children or other dependents who rely on you for financial support, a company-sponsored life insurance policy can help provide some level of protection for your family—or help supplement any existing life insurance you may have. And, review the disability insurance. The reality is that you never know when a disabling injury could happen.”
- Update Your Family Beneficiaries
If you’ve recently been through a major life event—like getting married or having a baby—chances are you’ll want your new family members to be your beneficiaries.
“Lastly, I encourage you to ask questions. The human resource department wants you to understand and be comfortable with your selections,” says Dwyer.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.