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Mastering Open Enrollment: Key Factors to Consider for Optimal Coverage

Whether you’re a seasoned employee or new to the workforce, here are some key factors to remember during open enrollment to maximize your benefits and protect your well-being.
By MSA Staff

Open enrollment season can be stressful for you as an employee, but it also presents opportunities to review and make important decisions about your employer-provided benefits.  Whether you are a seasoned employee or new to the workforce, it is essential to approach this time period with careful consideration.  Here are some key factors to keep in mind during open enrollment to maximize your benefits and protect your well-being.

Review Your Current Benefits

Take time to evaluate your current benefits package.  Consider whether your needs have changed over the past year or if any gaps in coverage need to be addressed.

Assess Your Needs

Your health status, including medical, dental, vision, and anticipated needs, should heavily influence your benefit choices.  Analyze the types of services you used in the previous year and anticipate any upcoming procedures or appointments that you will need.  Consider factors such as prescription medications, regular check-ups, and specialist visits for you and any dependents.  Determine which options meet your needs.

Evaluate Plan Costs

Open enrollment is an opportunity to assess the costs associated with different benefit plans.  Compare monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments across various plans, and make sure that you understand how plan benefits compare.  Get help if you need it to understand how options might work together, such as a high deductible plan with a health savings account.  Balancing monthly costs and potential expenses is crucial to making an informed decision.

Understand How Taxes Work & Explore Additional Benefits

You may want to explore the potential tax benefits of some plans, like health savings and flexible spending accounts.  Many plan offerings are paid with pre-tax dollars, which could reduce your taxable income.  Beyond medical coverage, open enrollment often allows employees to opt for additional benefits such as dental, vision, disability, life insurance, and flexible spending accounts.  Assess your needs in these areas and evaluate whether the benefits align with your needs in the next plan year.  Consider the value these benefits can provide and how they might contribute to your overall financial and well-being goals.

Network & Provider Considerations

Check whether your preferred providers and facilities are within the network of the plans you are considering.  Out-of-network services may incur higher costs or may not be covered, so it is essential to evaluate network coverage.  If you have a specific provider like a doctor or dentist you don’t want to leave, make sure the options you are considering make sense and provide you with the choices most important to you.

Familiarize Yourself with Plan Changes

Insurance plans and benefit offerings can change from year to year.  Be sure to review any updates or modifications to your plan.  Look for changes in coverage, copayments, or provider networks.  Understanding these modifications can help you avoid any surprises or potential gaps in coverage.

Seek Help & Ask Questions

Open enrollment can feel overwhelming, but help is available.  It is a valuable opportunity for you to assess your benefits and make informed decisions.  Your human resources team can provide information, but in addition, a Money Coach can discuss your options, work with you to develop a budget, consider potential scenarios, and even help you understand the tax implications of your benefits choices.  Open enrollment is a chance to invest in your long-term health and financial security, so take the time to make confident decisions.

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