For Immediate Release
September 10, 2019
8 Ways to Become an Open Enrollment Pro
Brookfield, WI—Every year around this time, employees are asked to make important health care coverage selections during open enrollment, faced with making decisions that will impact themselves, their families and their wallets—for an entire year.
"Open enrollment is often time-consuming and confusing for employees, but these choices can make a huge financial impact," said Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. "Taking the time up front to carefully choose the best options will help employees better manage their finances throughout the year, alleviating stress and promoting productivity."
Below are some tips from the International Foundation that HR and benefit professionals can share with employees to help them get prepped for the season:
- Take your time. Take time to really read through the enrollment materials you receive. If you are invited to a face-to-face meeting, make time to attend it. It's possible you'll be offered different plan options and coverages this year. The better you understand the changes, the better decisions you'll make.
- Take a trip down memory lane. Think back to what happened in your life this year. How often did you and your family members need medical services? What kind? Are any treatments ongoing? Think about any life changes that could affect the benefits you need, like a marriage or divorce, a child going off to college or a spouse changing jobs.
- Look ahead. Consider what the year ahead will look like for you and your family. Are you planning to have a baby? Or knee replacement surgery? A root canal? Does someone need braces? New glasses? Keep this in mind as you look at your coverage options.
- Dive into the details. Knowing what you needed last year and what you'll need this year will help you choose the right plans and coverage levels. It's important to note whether the plans' provider networks have changed. Make sure your doctors are still in-network. Is your chiropractor also covered? Does the plan cover orthodontics? Is your spouse's daily prescription drug covered, and did the coverage change? Also consider areas of need like access to specialists, mental health care, therapies, complementary and alternative medicine, and chronic care. Look at the options offered in all plans, including health, dental, vision and disability.
- Get out your calculator. Add together the amount you'll need to pay toward your health premium plus deductibles, copayments for prescriptions and doctors' office visits, and coinsurance for services. Understand what you'll be asked to pay if you seek care outside your network. This will give you a clearer picture of how much you're likely to spend. The plan that looks to be the cheapest option may not really be the cheapest for you.
- Determine what's right for you. Cost and your deductible aren't the only factors to consider. Check on the quality of the doctors and other providers in the network. And consider your comfort level with risk. If you want your family to be covered for every eventuality, a more traditional plan might be right for you. If you're comfortable taking on some up-front costs, a high-deductible plan with a lower premium might be your plan of choice.
- Take advantage of extras. Your employer may offer you the option to reduce your health premiums in exchange for your participation in a wellness program or health risk assessment. They may match some or all of the money you save in your 401(k) plan. They might let you set aside tax-deferred money into a health savings account or flexible spending account. The International Foundation Employee Benefits Survey: 2018 Results found that 85% of organizations offer at least one type of voluntary benefit. Check with your employer to see if they offer voluntary insurance like critical illness, pet, auto and homeowners. They may even offer a group discount and payroll deduction—If these options work for your situation, sign up.
- Ask questions. Don't be shy about asking your HR or benefits department to explain something if you're not sure. They're there to help and want you to make the best decisions for your situation.
If you're curious about how your plan compares, the International Foundation Employee Benefits Survey: 2018 Results
found that for employees with deductibles, the average deductible they can expect to pay is $1,491 with single coverage and $2,788 with family coverage.
The report also found that the average share of the health care premium paid by an employee—23% for single coverage and 31% for family coverage—is holding steady, with an increase of less than 1% over the previous four years.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 31,500 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit www.ifebp.org.
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