3 Things To Consider Before Open Enrollment Season
Although open enrollment season is still a little ways a way, it’s always better to stay one step ahead when you’re planning for next year’s benefits!
For those who don’t know, open enrollment refers to the period in which you have the opportunity to enroll in or opt out of certain benefits packages, as well as health, vision, and dental coverage for the coming year. We know that not everyone looks forward to open enrollment — after all, sorting through health care plans and calculating costs vs. benefits can be intimidating if you don’t know what to look for.
But trust us, open enrollment isn’t as intimidating as it seems! Here are three things you need to think about before open enrollment starts, and one thing employers can do to make open enrollment easier for their employees:
How have my needs changed?
Generally, it’s easy to predict what your healthcare needs will be from one year to the next, barring emergencies. But 2020 is the year of surprises, and this year it is more important than ever to take stock of your needs as we head into open enrollment season.
Do you have any procedures coming up? Are there health concerns that you want to make sure are covered? Are you 26, and on the hunt for a whole new insurance plan?
Regardless of what the answers to those questions are, asking them sets you up to tackle open enrollment head on. Once you’ve clearly defined your needs, it will be easier to sort through your options. Just remember: not all benefits are created equal. Make sure you’re crunching the numbers before you pick the cheapest option — otherwise, you might actually lose money in the long run!
Have my providers changed?
For this one, you’ll have to wait until your company sends around your open enrollment materials. But we can’t stress this enough: review your materials early! Companies often switch up what they offer year to year, and we expect that to be especially true going into 2021.
This tip isn’t necessarily super helpful for making elections — after all, if your employer changes what they’re offering, you’ll have to choose from what you get. But if there are changes, catching them early and figuring out how they’ll affect you can save you some major headaches down the line. Make sure whoever you go to — general practitioner, dentist, dermatologist — is still covered by your plan before you schedule future appointments. And make sure to double check what requires pre-approval, so you don’t find yourself accidentally out of pocket.
What insurance benefits should I review?
For us, going into open enrollment is kind of like a kid going into a candy store — but if you’re new to the world of benefits, we get that it might feel a little bit more overwhelming. As we mentioned above, with the world in flux (not to mention the usual year-to-year regulatory changes) your company’s insurance plans and benefits packages may very well be different this year than they were last year. Be sure to review any changes in benefits carefully, and if you’re confused about something, don’t hesitate to reach out to HR (or, have HR reach out to us!).
Feel like you’re finally ready to reap the benefits of a tax-advantaged program, like an FSA? We say go for it! Weighing your benefits before open enrollment starts will give you the time to calculate what’s best and most useful to you, instead of panicking at the last minute and enrolling in whatever Google says is best. When it comes to decisions like these, we generally start by weighing them against our yearly budgets: do our benefits outweigh our potential risks? With tax-advantaged benefits like FSAs, the answer will almost always be yes.
How can employers help?
At the end of the day, your benefits package is only as good as your employee engagement. After all, you could have the best benefits package in the world, but if those benefits are hidden away inside a complex, 40-page document, there’s a good chance your employees won’t take advantage of them.
We’re firm advocates for demystifying benefits packages, so as open enrollment looms ahead, think about ways you can present the information i that allow employees to spend their time thinking about what benefits are best for them, instead of what benefits are offered in the first place.
If you’d like help demystifying your benefits package, or want benefits taken off your plate, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.