During the 20+ years I spent in the Corporate World before Princess Nagger came along and changed my life completely (in a good way), I didn’t pay much attention to open enrollment other than just signed off and the same old/same old every year, unwittingly paying too much for insurance that maybe wasn’t ‘just right’ for me.
After I decided to forgo the suits and long hours for sleepless nights and diaper changes, not paying attention to insurance options was no longer an option.
Open enrollment can be such a confusing beast! Reading up on different insurance coverages and what you get overall is a wise idea, or talk to your HR person so they can explain all the different coverages so you can make an educated decision.
Since my husband just got a new job after our big move, we were poring over the health insurance options trying to decide which option would be most beneficial to cover our family. After a while, every option sort of merges together!
Every year during open enrollment we’ll definitely re-look at all the options based on the prior year’s coverage vs. needs and see if we need to make any changes instead of blindly just signing up for the same coverages each year – especially if we aren’t made aware of any changes.
Aflac’s Open Enrollment Survey found that 69 percent of workers said their employer did not communicate changes coming to their benefits package. But businesses are feeling the same heat, because only nine percent surveyed indicated that they are ready for the major reforms to healthcare policies.
Communication and education are key – be sure to ask questions to get the answers you need to better understand your policy and coverages. Remember, no question is a dumb question! Aflac has some great resources for Open Enrollment education, and if you’re overwhelmed with information, call your insurance company – they’ll be happy to provide you with needed answers.
Top Tips from Aflac:
- Prepare ahead of time: Be aware of annual insurance policy changes and compare your new benefits package to your policy from the year before. Do your homework to ensure you choose the right policy that fits your needs and make sure that all of the health insurance costs you’re responsible for are within your budget. Also, review the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for health care services and pharmacy purchases you’ll be responsible for paying to ensure your plan offers the coverage you need.
- Don’t make assumptions: Keep in mind that if your company hasn’t made any material changes to its health insurance plan since health care reform legislation was passed in 2010, it may be exempt for now from offering widely discussed essential health benefits, including free preventive services. Ask your HR manager if your policy options changed to include new benefits made available by health care reform.
- Check your spouse’s benefits package: Your employer doesn’t have to offer insurance to your spouse and as costs increase, more companies are cutting this option. Even if your employer does offer your spouse insurance, the company is not obligated to pay anything toward the premium. If your spouse has access to employer-sponsored health insurance through his or her job, it may make the most financial sense to purchase two individual policies as opposed to one family policy.
- Don’t double up: Health care reform legislation requires plans in the individual and small group markets to offer essential health benefits like pediatric vision and dental and, chronic disease management services. Check all aspects of your major medical plan so you know what is covered and what isn’t.
- Examine premium costs carefully: Cheaper isn’t always better, since plans with the lowest monthly premiums likely mean you’ll pay more in co-insurance and receive less coverage. Consider supplemental insurance such as accident, hospital or critical illness plans to help reduce rising health care expenses.
If you’re looking at making changes during the open enrollment period, consider getting yourself educated so you can make a great decision.
Do you look over your policies during open enrollment, or do you just continue the coverage you’ve had each year?
Note: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. As usual, all opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources. See my disclosure policy here.