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Are You Maximizing Your Benefits During Open Enrollment?

Insights Financial Planning

Open enrollment season can be a stressful, confusing time for employees. Most people end up re-enrolling in their current health insurance plan, or briefly “reviewing” their benefits just so they can check it off of their to-do list. But they’re missing something really important - workplace benefits are one of the most important components of your financial plan.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed this open enrollment season, don’t worry. Reviewing your benefits doesn’t have to take a significant amount of time, but it can save you a significant amount of money.


Check Your Beneficiaries

The first (and easiest) enrollment season “to do” to check off your list is to check your beneficiaries. Making sure your beneficiaries are updated can streamline your estate planning process, and ensure that your assets are distributed to the right people. So many people view beneficiaries as a “set it and forget it” task when you should actually be checking them regularly to make sure they’re correct.

For example, if you’ve been with your employer for a while, you may still have a parent or sibling listed as your beneficiary even if you’ve gotten married since you were originally hired. You might also have an ex-spouse still listed as your beneficiary instead of a child or a new spouse. Making sure your beneficiaries are correct helps to make things easier on your loved ones if you pass away, which is the #1 priority that most people have when creating their estate plan.


Look Into Health Insurance Options

You may feel like your current insurance coverage is sufficient, but is it actually serving all of your needs? You should always look into different health coverage options to make sure the coverage you’re receiving is enough for both you and your family. The different types of coverage you’re looking for are:

  • HMOs

  • PPOs

  • EPOs

  • POS

  • HDHPs

Although it may look like these plan options are similar, they have a few key differences. Namely, some plans (like HMOs and PPOs) have higher out-of-network costs than other plans. HMOs also require that you have a primary care doctor that can refer you to other professionals and specialists who are in your network, which may limit the professionals your insurance covers you to go see. HDHPs have the added benefit of an HSA option (Health Savings Account). The point is, each insurance plan offers different pros and cons, and you need to make sure you’re selecting the one that works best for you and your family’s primary health concerns.


Adjust Based On Life Changes

What has happened since you last reviewed your insurance options? Some common life changes are:

  • Getting married

  • Having kids

  • Losing your job (or your spouse losing their job)

  • Getting divorced

  • Moving out of state

  • Adopting a child

  • A death in your family

Some of these life changes may count as “qualifying” life events - meaning you can change your health insurance to account for the life change within a specific timeframe after the event happens. However, if you’ve noticed one or more life-changing events in the past year, it’s wise to check your health insurance and life insurance coverage to make sure you have enough (or that you’re not paying for too much) coverage.


Look at Disability Insurance

Many employers offer a baseline long-term disability insurance free of charge. However, some of them offer additional long-term disability coverage for an added marginal cost each month. Because the insurance you enroll in through your employer is provided to you at a group rate, it’s notably less expensive than if you were to seek out long-term care disability coverage on your own. A few extra dollars a month may be worth it. At the very least, it’s worthwhile to discuss it with your financial planner. 


Talk to HR

You might be surprised to find that your employer offers benefits other than health and life insurance, or your 401(k). Many employers offer a range of benefits, or discounted services, to their employees, including:

  • Adoption counseling

  • Grants, or paid time off, for families looking to adopt

  • Dependent care FSAs (to save for child or adult care)

  • Gym memberships

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • On-site healthcare

  • Free or discounted financial wellness programs

You never know when you’re going to find a program through your employer that’s the perfect fit. HR can help guide you through the different workplace benefits available to you, and advocate for new programs or support systems if you need them.


Ask Your Financial Planner

Need help reviewing your workplace benefits? As financial planners, we help our clients make sure they’re maximizing all of the resources available to them. Contact us today, and we can help you make sure you’re on track!