Are you ready for open enrollment? Better get ready. November is the month most commonly associated with employers offering annual enrollment for employee benefits. Be quick, however. The window for enrollment isn’t open for very long. You’ll need to do your homework before your company’s enrollment period to understand all your available health insurance plan options, while making the best selection for your needs and your family’s needs and financial resources. Here are some things to watch out for.
Do you know your enrollment dates? Be vigilant. Watch your email inbox and postal mailbox for any information your employer distributes. Once you know the dates, mark them on your calendar and set a smart device reminder to enroll during this window. Setting up reminders is an important safety net to avoid missing this important deadline. Due to this brief window, just two to three weeks, be mindful of the deadline, and don’t wait until the last minute to start. If the window closes before you make your selections, you likely lose vital coverage for the upcoming year. If you wait until the last moment, you might end up fumbling the ball due to technical glitches or load limitations of the system from everyone else doing the same.
A Change of Plans
Even if you wish to keep the same coverage for 2023 as you had in 2022, look over your enrollment documents to determine if you need to take any action. Always assume you must take action. Never count on the fact that your 2022 elections will roll over into the next year. Be sure to have a look at what’s new for 2023. You might find insurance plan options or other optional benefits that hadn’t been available for the previous year. Check for price increases on the plan(s) you’re interested in, as these rate changes are not always obvious. If your life situation has changed, such as a marriage, a divorce, a new baby, or your health declined, a change in your plan selection might be in order.
Know Your Vocabulary
When it comes to health insurance, there is plenty of jargon to become familiar with, words such as deductible, copay, out-of-pocket maximum, and so on. We have found a handy resource on shrm.org that can help you understand the terms you need to know. Some tech-savvy employers offer the assistance of enrollment support like MyChoice Benefits Recommendation Engine, which helps “factor in the financial, physical, and emotional side of the benefits selection process to create a personalized strategy that helps drive decision-making.”
Do you know the difference between an FSA vs. HRA vs. HSA? Which one works for you? Do you know the requirements to be eligible?
An FSA is short for a “Flex Spending Account,” and is a special account you pay money into all year that covers the cost of medical care, including copays, deductibles, and co-insurance amounts. Often, these accounts come with a debit card, making access to your funds more convenient. The Health Savings Account, or HSA, is an option if you select a high-deductible health plan. It is a tax-advantaged account, which means you’re able to set money aside pre-tax to pay for medical expenses. However, you cannot have both an FSA and an HSA account. An HRA is a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, which means you pay out of pocket for certain medical expenses and are then reimbursed. These are funded by employer funds, not from your paycheck. The HRA plan is becoming more popular, so look for this as part of your benefits package in the coming years.
Open enrollment can be scary if you’re uninformed or not prepared. The key is to be diligent, study your options, and know your jargon. Once you understand what’s available, you’ll soon find a plan that works best for your family.
At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers can help you cross the goal line of open enrollment like a pro. For that touchdown pass, schedule a free consultation today and do a little victory dance.