Open enrollment is a great time to reconsider your benefit options
Fall is all about football games, pumpkin lattes and cooler temperatures.
But if you’re in the workforce, you know that when the leaves start changing, open enrollment season has also arrived.
This year, some Americans may be paying closer attention to their benefit selections and coverage options because of record inflation.1 Rising costs, which includes everything from increased gas prices to higher grocery bills, are causing plenty of financial concerns for many people. Therefore, it's more important than ever to think beyond just your base salary. Your full benefits package can have significant implications for your financial health as well.
What is open enrollment?
Open enrollment gives employees the chance to make changes to their workplace benefits package.2
In most cases, this annual period allows you to modify your healthcare coverage and update your life insurance policy as needed. Unless you experience a qualifying life event, such as having a baby or tying the knot, it’s the one window you have each year to revise your personal elections.3
From a big-picture, financial perspective, it’s also a great opportunity to review your retirement income strategy.
So, before completing your open enrollment selections this fall, consider asking yourself a few key questions:
How do I choose the right health insurance?
Before making any health coverage decisions, it’s best to consider your family’s current medical needs.
Take stock: Do you or your dependents have any ongoing health issues? Do you take any certain prescriptions? Do you need to schedule any upcoming procedures or surgeries? You may not be able to anticipate every medical expense you may have in the coming year, but you should take some time to think through any possibilities so you can be prepared.
In addition, you’ll want to weigh everything from premiums and copays to what hospitals and doctors are in network. For example, if your primary physician is out of network, you could end up owing a lot more for annual checkups and other exams. Also, pay attention to your deductible, the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket before your coverage kicks in.4
What are the differences between an HSA and FSA?
At first glance, a health savings account (HSA) and a flexible spending account (FSA) seem similar. They both let you allocate pretax dollars to pay for medical expenses. But these two solutions couldn’t be more different when it comes their features, rules and provisions.
If you have access to both an HSA and an FSA through your employer, it’s important to know how they work and what they offer before deciding how much to contribute to one or both. For example, you can tap into an HSA to cover any qualified health cost you have today — and when you’re retired. On the other hand, you can only use an FSA to pay for current medical expenses as you generally lose any unspent funds at the end of the year.
Keep in mind, too, that you can only enroll in an HSA and contribute to it if you have a qualifying high-deductible health plan.
To learn more about how HSAs and FSAs compare, check out this article for key details
What are my different insurance options?
At the very least, make sure you cover all your bases. Be sure to review everything that is offered and consider signing up for policies that are included at no cost (or low cost) to prepare for any potential hardship you may experience. Preventative screenings, disability services and life insurance policies are important to consider from a financial perspective in the event a misfortune happens.
Is my retirement plan on track?
Even if you’re able to fine-tune your retirement account throughout the year, the open enrollment period is still an excellent time to look into your financial health and your financial future. After all, your nest egg needs checkups, too.
Take a minute to:
Of course, managing your retirement savings isn’t always easy. If you need help along your journey, consider seeking out trustworthy financial advice. Empower research shows that more than 75% of Americans believe using professional guidance is critical to achieving a secure retirement.
What if I miss open enrollment?
You really don’t want to miss your open enrollment period. Unless you have a qualifying event later, it’s typically the only time during the year when you can enroll or make changes to your benefit elections. If you do miss your open enrollment period, reach out to your employer’s human resources department to see if there’s any flexibility or potentially another opportunity to change your coverage.