Did you know Santa never holds open enrollment? His staff is sELF-employed! Get it? No? Well, open enrollment can be overwhelming, so I’m trying to lighten the mood and help you get through it more successfully. So, let’s get right to it then.
Each Fall, companies hold their “annual” or “open” enrollment events when employees choose benefits for the upcoming year. Making the right decisions affects your health and finances. So, to make the experience the smoothest it can be, I have some open enrollment tips for you.
Open Enrollment Tips
Open Enrollment Tip #1: Mark Your Calendar!
Open enrollment times vary greatly but generally include the months of November and December. For those who participate in Medicare, Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB), or the Health Insurance Marketplace, here are some key dates for 2024 enrollment:
- Medicare open enrollment: October 15, 2023, to December 7, 2023
- Open enrollment for Federal plans: November 15, 2023, to December 11, 2023
- Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment for individual plans: November 1, 2023, through January 15, 2023
- State-specific open enrollment plan dates may vary.
If you are still waiting to hear from your HR department or plan provider, please ask when you’ll receive the information.
Open Enrollment Tip #2: Review Prior Benefits Usage
Review your prior benefits and usage to estimate contributions for the following year. Check your new provider network, premium cost increase, deductible, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximum to understand your financial responsibilities.
But in case I confused you with these terms, here’s a quick reminder:
- Network: Your carrier contracts with doctors and other healthcare professionals. Those are the providers in your network, and you usually pay less to receive care from them.
- Premium: The monthly payment for your health plan coverage. A subsidy may offset some of the premium cost if you qualify.
- Deductible: The amount you pay before your insurance starts covering part of your medical bills. If your annual deductible is $2,500, you’ll have to pay all medical bills until you’ve paid out $2,500. After that, the insurance company begins paying. If you have co-insurance, you’ll still pay your co-insurance amount until you reach the out-of-pocket maximum.
- Co-insurance: This is the amount you pay after meeting your deductible but before reaching your out-of-pocket max. For example, you receive a $1,000 medical bill after meeting your deductible, and your co-insurance level is 20 percent. You will be responsible for $200 of the bill, and your insurance company will be responsible for the rest.
Open Enrollment Tip #3: Consider New Benefits Options
Life changes can affect your future medical expenses, savings, and retirement needs, increasing your needed benefit options. Yet your employer may reduce their costs with benefits that cost you more or even fewer benefits overall. But you may still have the chance to enroll in a new account type to save taxes and for your future.
Open Enrollment Tip #4: Sign up for FSA or HSA Benefits
Employers offer tax-advantaged healthcare benefit accounts like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) to save money on out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Other benefits for non-healthcare expenses include Dependent Care FSAs for child and dependent care and Transit/Commuter accounts for commuter fare and transportation expenses. Use these benefits to save money on taxes and better care for you and your family.
HSAs or FSAs cover various IRS-approved healthcare expenses with tax-free dollars, including:
- COBRA premiums (HSA only)
- Prescription medications
If your employer offers an HRA, they’re great because your employers fund them, and their contributions do not count toward your taxable income.
But as you consider options, remember that some benefits have a health insurance plan requirement. For example, HSA owners must enroll in a qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
Open Enrollment Tip #5: Organize Your Papers and Receipts
It’s vital to gather your healthcare receipts and Explanation of Benefits documents from the previous year to prepare for open enrollment. Doing so will help you make informed decisions about insurance plan needs, FSA or HSA options, and contributions.
Keep your paperwork and consider using a benefits debit card for easy payments and fewer manual reimbursement claims.
Remember these tips for easy enrollment, but know that I have even more enrollment tips in one of my helpful videos!