With the exception of a qualifying life event, open enrollment only comes around once a year. Open enrollment is the window to elect or make changes to your benefit options for the following year. It’s essential to pay close attention to any plan changes or updates to your work-sponsored benefits. Not selecting the proper coverage can result in being over or underinsured, both of which can lead to unwanted expenses.
So what can we do to avoid open enrollment mistakes and select the best plan that works for you and your dependents? Read on as we share tips we’ve put together from TouchCare’s very own Open Enrollment Specialists.
"Benefits are personal. What’s best for your colleague may not be the best plan for you or your dependents."
Know your employer’s Open Enrollment deadline.
Missing your enrollment date can put you and your dependents at risk of not receiving benefits or being dropped from proper coverage. Pay attention to communications that come through from your employer to ensure you elect your benefits before the enrollment window closes. Set a reminder for yourself so you don’t miss out on your benefits.
Benefits are personal.
When choosing your healthcare plan, don’t just select the one your colleague did. What’s best for your colleague may not be the best plan for you or your dependents. For example, if you and your family are generally healthy, and you only need to see a doctor once or twice a year, your health plan needs are very different from someone who may have a chronic illness and needs to take regular specialist visits into account.
Plan ahead for choosing benefits, don’t wait till the last minute!
It’s a good idea to consider any upcoming changes or upcoming procedures. If you’re anticipating major services such as major dental work like a root canal or a contact lens exam next year, make sure you review what procedures are covered as you compare plans and consider voluntary benefits like FSAs and HSAs.
Evaluate how you and your dependent(s) have used healthcare in the past year.
Use the past year’s healthcare expenses as a guide in determining what plan to pick. Essential factors to consider include how often you and your dependents go to the doctor, the types of services you might need over the year, and what types of prescriptions you or a family member are taking. You can use this as a guide to see how these costs will be covered under the plans for the year.
Consider the overall cost.
Avoiding high deductible plans due to up-front payments for services is not always a financially favorable strategy. Oftentimes, the premiums for these plans are much lower than those of traditional co-pay plans. Always look at premiums to understand if the amount saved will actually cover your entire deductible. Often offered in conjunction with a high deductible plan, is a Health Savings Account (HSA) which allows you to pay for certain medical expenses tax-free.
Open Enrollment is more than just health insurance.
Don’t overlook ancillary benefits like life insurance, critical illness, pet insurance, and AD&D. These offerings can be just as critical and cost-saving and can save you time from hunting for these services yourself.
Helpful open enrollment terms to know.
When comparing healthcare plans, it’s beneficial to learn some basic terms. Less than one-fourth of Americans are confident they understand basic insurance terminology. Here are a few key terms to learn!
- Premium: The amount you pay towards your company medical plan. Ex: You pay $XX dollars per month to have you and your dependents enrolled in the company medical plan.
- Deductible: The amount you pay for care before the insurance carrier beings to pay its share. Ex: If you have a $1,000 deductible, you are required to pay all expenses out of pocket until you reach $1000. From here, either copays or coinsurance will apply.
- Copay: A predetermined rate you pay for healthcare service at the time of care.Ex: You pay $20 every time you visit the doctor’s office, regardless of the reason for the visit.
- Coinsurance: A percentage you pay for healthcare services after you’ve met the deductible. Ex: If you have a 20% coinsurance, you pay 20% of each medical bill, and your health insurance will cover 80%.
- In-network: When a doctor, hospital, or other provider accepts your health insurance plan with which it has a negotiated rate.
We know Open Enrollment can be confusing – TouchCare’s expert Health Assistants are here to guide members through the process and provide advice based on their personalized needs. To learn more about how TouchCare supports open enrollment, click here.