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Make the Most of Open Enrollment

For most employers, open enrollment typically runs between November 1st to December 15th every year. This is when business owners and employers will compile and distribute information to employees that include a review of each available policy. Employees then have the opportunity to make selections for healthcare coverage for themselves and their family members.

This is the only time outside of a qualifying event, which would include marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, or loss of other coverage, you can change your coverage until the next open enrollment season. If you’re new to being on your own insurance or have never navigated the insurance world on your own before, it can be an overwhelming time. But the open enrollment period doesn’t have to be confusing. It’s your time to take advantage of your resources.

There are many benefits companies can potentially offer, including:

  • Medical insurance. Typically your employer will offer a choice of plans and cover part of the premium cost. What people are mostly concerned with is figuring out their deductible. This is the amount you could owe during a coverage period (usually one year) for covered healthcare services before your plan begins to pay.
  • Dental insurance & Vision insurance. Like medical insurance, companies will often pay a significant portion to provide employees with this coverage. This is usually much more affordable than medical insurance.
  • Flexible spending accounts. FSAs and HSAs are dedicated accounts you can set up to help offset the cost of your deductible. You can set up deductions from your paycheck that will feed into your spending accounts. From there, you can use your spending account debit card to make healthcare-related purchases, pay co-pays, finance medical bills, etc. This is a helpful option to lighten the impact of either an unexpected medical bill or an emergency.
  • Life insurance. This type of coverage can be helpful for families that experience an unexpected loss. Life insurance premiums offered through an employer are often at a discounted or lower rate for the employee since they purchase the group life insurance coverage on a large scale.
  • Long and short-term disability plans. Disability income protection insurance benefits long-term disability resulting from a covered injury or sickness. Benefits begin at the end of the elimination period and continue while disabled up to the maximum benefit duration.
  • Employee Assistance Programs. EAPs can help with any issue affecting overall health, well-being, and life management, from the stress of everyday life to relationship issues or even work-related concerns. This can include caseworkers, attorneys, financial consultations, and much more.
  • Retirement Deductions. You can also determine how much of your paycheck you want to be automatically deducted and put into a retirement fund. Many companies will match your deduction to a certain percentage point, say 3%. If you contribute 3% of your paycheck, your company will match with another 3%, making your total contribution 6%. Not taking advantage of this is leaving “free” money unused. While open enrollment is a good time to review all benefits, typically, retirement deductions can be changed anytime throughout the year.

This is just a basic explanation of potential offerings employers may provide. If you have specific questions, you should connect with someone either in your company’s human resources department or company owner, if applicable.

”Knowledge is power. Making informed healthcare decisions can help you spend your money wisely and get the most out of your health coverage.” Kim Meier, Southwest Health’s Benefits Coordinator.

If you better understand your healthcare coverage, you’re more likely to utilize your resources. If you know that you have $200 in your FSA account that won’t roll over to next year, you know to schedule that physical before the year is over. Making informed healthcare decisions can help you spend your money wisely and know how to use all of the resources available to you.

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