The open enrollment period is the window in which you can choose or change benefit options available through your employer. This includes health, dental and life insurance, retirement options and more. While it can be tempting to roll over last year’s options, open enrollment gives you the opportunity to review any changes to your plan, check out new employer offerings and make adjustments that may better suit you and your family’s needs in the immediate and long-term future.
Here we’ll explore some of the top considerations when evaluating your health benefits.
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Assess your needs.
Consider how your needs have changed over the last year and how they may continue to change in the following year. Are you anticipating any major or continuous medical expenses–a growing family, a divorce, a major surgery or an out-of-state move? If you do have life changes happening over the next year, make sure your health benefits account for these needs. It’s also a good idea to check that any providers you’re currently seeing or plan to see are within your insurance network to prevent out-of-pocket expenses.
If health plan decision support tools, like the Decision Doc tool powered by HYKE, are offered through your employer, they can help take into account your personal needs and goals and guide you to the most appropriate and cost-effective plan.
Look for changes in your plan.
When you receive your open enrollment materials, make sure to look for changes in the options that are being offered and compare health plans for any savings opportunities. When comparing plan costs, consider not only the monthly premium but also the deductible, copayments and out-of-pocket maximum to get a better idea of the overall cost of each plan.
For example, if your health changes unexpectedly, your doctor visits may increase, causing you to spend more out-of-pocket. Knowing any changes in your deductible allows you to adjust your plan to help you be better prepared for any health emergencies.
Consider an HSA.
With open enrollment providing a new opportunity to adjust and save, you may want to consider a plan with a health savings account (HSA). HSAs let you set aside pre-tax money to use toward qualified medical expenses, including dental, vision and mental health expenses, helping to ease the costs associated with care needs. If you’re eligible for an HSA through your employer plan, check to see if and how much your organization contributes to your HSA.
Some unexpected ways HSA funds could help lower your out-of-pocket medical expenses include:
- Triple tax benefits: When it comes to HSAs, contributions go untaxed, so the funds you save grow tax-free. And when you need them, withdrawals for qualified medical expenses go untaxed, too.
- Keep your HSA even if you switch jobs: HSA balances are individually owned, meaning they stay with you even if you change employers or health plans. And if you change to a health plan with a different HSA carrier, you can then roll over funds from your previous HSA.
- Accumulate funds over time: If you’re able to hold off on spending your HSA contributions, they can become a powerful investment to use toward health care expenses during retirement. HSA contributions can be invested into mutual funds, stocks or bonds, tax-free. They can compound year after year and have exclusive benefits that can’t be accessed through a 401(k) or IRA.
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In addition to decision-support tools like MyHealthMath’s Decision Doc, connecting with your human resources or health benefits representative for additional resources and information can help guide you to your best plan options for the coming year.
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