It’s open enrollment season, and while this end-of-the-year occurrence may not be as exciting as the holidays, researching and choosing your coverage carefully has the potential to be a gift all year long. While it may be tempting to simply stay on the same health insurance plan you elected to take last year, many changes happen between open enrollment periods, and it is important to weigh any pertinent alterations in your plan and its cost that may affect you in the upcoming year. According to CPA Practice Advisor, 28% of American workers are confident that they are using their employer-provided benefits to their highest potential, and we want you to be one of them! In this article, we will examine the five most important questions to ask during open enrollment.
1) Has my personal situation changed?
One of the most important questions to ask yourself during open enrollment is whether or not there have been any significant changes in your personal situation which might necessitate a change in your coverage. A diagnosis of a health problem, a pregnancy or new family member, or a change in finances might signal that a change in your health insurance plan may be right for you. Think about the members of your family that will be covered by your plan, any health challenges that each one may face, and your financial situation to clue you in as to the plan that is right for you.
2) Do you anticipate any new expenses in the next year that might affect your current elections?
Look at any new expenses that you expect to incur in the next year and decide whether your current health plan or a different level of coverage would best help mitigate health-related spending while fitting within your budget.
3) What out of pocket expenses did you pay last year?
Looking at the out of pocket expenses that you paid last year can be a good clue for where you might want to increase your coverage. Choosing a plan that saves you money on out of pocket expenses can mean a more expensive premium, but might be financially beneficial in the long run depending on how many expenses you typically incur.
4) Has your employer made changes to your current benefits plan?
Look carefully at your current benefits to see whether your employer has changed the coverage options or cost of your current plan. You’ll want to make sure that the most important facets of your coverage based on your individual health needs remain unchanged or have been improved, and that the plan’s cost still fits within your budget.
5) Can you contribute more to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA?)
If there are any changes that you can make within your budget that would allow you to contribute to a tax-deferred health savings plan such as an FSA or HSA, you will want to take this into consideration when choosing your coverage.
Choosing your health coverage this open enrollment season doesn’t have to be a headache. By asking yourself the five questions above and doing research on the plans available to you, you can ensure that you are electing for the plan that will be most cost-effective and beneficial to your individual needs.