Four Steps to Make the Most of Open Enrollment

We’re headed into one of the business times of the year. Between buying the Thanksgiving turkey and shopping for holiday gifts, you’ll find selecting your employee benefits on your to-do list.

It might be tempting to let your benefits plan from last year roll over into 2019. However, experts advise against the set-it-and-forever-forget-it model. Open enrollment is your golden opportunity to sign up for your 2019 benefits. Take time to review your current benefits plan and ensure you’re taking full advantage of what’s offered.

Here are four steps to help you make the most of open enrollment.

Step One: Outline Your Needs

Consider a ringed approach to outlining the expenses you’ll incur during 2019.

In the center, place expenses you know you’ll have. For example, do you live with a chronic condition, like diabetes? Include the cost of your insulin, test strips and other supplies for the year in this ring. How about vision expenses? Are you a contact wearer? Add in the cost of your contact exam and lenses. Another option, analyze spending from 2018 on doctor visits, prescriptions, etc. to get a good sense of your healthcare budget. This ring represents known expenses you’ll want to try to get covered through your benefits.

Next, determine what is likely to happen. Do you expect to become pregnant this year and therefore have increased doctor visits and care? Is this the year you’ll want to put a will in place or make changes to your trust? If so, signing up for a legal benefit could be worthwhile.

Finally look at what could potentially happen. This outer ring is where life and disability insurance come in.

Once you have a clear idea of your known, likely and potential expenses, it’s time to scour your benefits booklet or marketplace. The goal, determine what benefits will save you money and protect your family.

Step Two: Review and Revise Your Current Benefits Selections

Health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance rank among the top three benefits you should review each year.

Many people start with health insurance, including vision and dental plans. Don’t default to the plan you signed up for last year. Instead, review each option and make sure you understand the difference in the types of plans offered. Does your company offer a high-deductible plan or a co-pay option? If they offer both, which plan will save you more money in the long run? Several companies have benefits calculators or use ALEX, an AI tool, to help you decide. You can also talk to your HR advisor if you have questions.

When reviewing your health insurance options, also look to see if your company offers flexible spending accounts, including a Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) or Flexible Spending account (FSA).

The decision to enroll in your company’s life insurance and disability insurance programs should be a no-brainer. Often offered at low or no cost to employees, these policies provide a great first line of defense should the unthinkable happen. The question then becomes whether you need more coverage than provided by your employer, as addressed in step four.

Step Three: Consider Enrolling in New Benefits

Once you’ve looked at your current benefits plan, analyze what additional programs or benefits you may want to take advantage of. Think back to your diagram of known, likely and potential expenses. Hopefully, many of your known expenses are already covered in step two. What known or possible costs have you not accounted for? Some companies offer legal benefits, dependent care FSAs, fertility benefits and others that you may not have signed up for in the past. Review your options to determine if one of these benefits could help lower your overall out-of-pocket expenses for 2019.

Step Four: Look at Additional Coverage

The benefits offered by your employer don’t always cover you fully. If you suspect you may need additional life insurance coverage, contact a SelectQuote advisor. He or she can help you review your current levels of protection and decide if added coverage would provide peace-of-mind.

Following this four-step process to review and revise your benefits will put you in a great position for next year. The 2019 Open Enrollment Period runs from November 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018. Plan changes after December 15 are typically not allowed unless you’ve experienced a life event – such as marriage, divorce or a new baby. So, roll up your sleeves and pull out your open enrollment booklet. During this busy time of year don’t wait or miss your chance to enroll.

Also, if you’re on Medicare, the Annual Enrollment Period is the one time every year for those who are Medicare-eligible to get coverage or compare and change plans. A SelectQuote licensed agent can help you find a more comprehensive plan or may be able to help save you money.

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