Are you ready for enrollment season?
Open enrollment is when you review your benefit options and choose which ones to renew or enroll in for the next year, like health insurance, life insurance, and tax-advantaged healthcare accounts. Whether you sign up for benefits through an employer or enroll through an exchange, you should be ready in advance.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for enrollment season.
Review Current Benefits
The first step is to review your current coverage and benefits. Consider what you and your family use most and the associated costs.
Keeping the past year’s healthcare receipts as a reference point is important, as when combined with your Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) from the previous year, they can help you determine the coverages you actually used and how much you spent. They can also help you you assess your other benefit needs, like signing up for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA).
The decision on which health plan is best for your situation will differ across participants because everyone has unique health and budgetary needs. Carefully review your options and understand the plan’s benefits and costs to find the best coverage. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Does your current coverage still meet your needs?
- Will your benefits change next year?
- Does the plan you want fit your budget? Your cost analysis should include the monthly premium, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
- Are your medications covered? Even if you don’t expect to change plans, ensure your prescriptions will still be covered next year.
Mark your calendar!
Depending on where you get your insurance from, open enrollment isn’t the same for everyone:
- Do you enroll through your employer? Most businesses select two to three weeks between September and December when you can review and sign up for health benefits for the following year.
- If you buy through a state exchange or federal health insurance marketplace, open enrollment runs from November 1 to January 15 each year.
- Open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 each year for people who enroll in Medicare.
Most plan years begin January 1, though your plan may have a different start date.
Enroll in Tax-Advantaged Benefit Accounts.
In addition to health and life insurance, many companies offer tax-advantaged benefit plans. You can save on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses using pre-tax money if your employer offers an FSA, HSA, or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
FSA or HSA funds come from pre-tax payroll contributions and can be used to pay for various IRS-approved healthcare expenses. (If you have an HSA, remember that others may fund the account, too.) The eligible expenses for these accounts include copays, coinsurance, deductibles, prescription medications, eye care, and dental care. If your employer offers an HRA, the company funds the account and determines how you can spend the money. However, an HRA does not count towards your income; in that sense, it is also tax-free.
Your employer may other tax-advantaged accounts like Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSAs) or commuter benefits (transit and parking). DCFSAs help you save money on dependent care costs incurred while you work or look for work, and commuter benefits help with transit and transportation costs.
Ask if your employer’s plan offers a benefits debit card. Using one may reduce the number of receipts you must file for reimbursement.
Nearly half of all employees say they need help understanding their healthcare benefits. If your employer offers any of the accounts mentioned above, and you need help, ask your HR or benefits administrator for more information.
You can also check out CaptainContributor.com. Captain Contributor provides easy-to-understand information about benefit accounts through a website, blog articles, and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
DataPath Administrative Services has provided Arkansas employers comprehensive third-party employee benefits administration and compliance services since 1996. Please enter your email (above right) to receive notifications about new blog articles as they are published.