10 Quick Rules About Open EnrollmentFiscal Fitness Clubs of America
1. Block out time as soon as you know the date you need to make your selection by. Block out 1 hour for 2 days to dive into the options and create a list of your questions for your workplace benefits contact. Plan for additional time to research the best choices for you.
2. Sign up for the no-brainers like all the disability coverage that is offered. If you really can’t afford all of the disability coverage that is offered, take the long term coverage and bypass the short term. (#1 Risk Rule: cover what would be catastrophic first! No income for the rest of your life would be catastrophic!!)
3. You don’t have time to find out whether you or your spouse are insurable, so use the group life. Maybe you can get better rates on life insurance somewhere else, but since you didn’t do the comparison in time, sign up for the coverage you need and put it on your calendar to comparison shop for next year’s open enrollment. Need help in figuring out what you need? Call your coach (financial planner) or try this free website LifeHappens.org.
4. Take a lifestyle/health review to see what others think about your health status. We had a smoking, 65-year-old on oxygen tell us his health was good, just not excellent! Higher health risks means you shouldn’t make changes to health insurance, unless you’ve got the out of pocket funds saved already. Here’s a sample General Mills uses for their employees.
5. Review your medical expenses from the prior year and project for this year. Then see what the total expenses are for health insurance plus what all the out of pocket costs would be for various plans. This can help you make an informed decision. Your employer may have a comparison tool, so ask for it. (Fiscal Fitness members use the Health Care Evaluation Tool.) A general rule of thumb is: Low expenses and usage = High deductible + Health Savings Account (HSA) plan. High expenses and usage = lower deductible + FLEX savings plan.
6. Don’t miss using the Flex or HSA plan. The rules can seem confusing, but these options are amazing tools that can save you between 20% -50% of your contributions in taxes. If your employer offers a High Deductible health plan, make sure you can meet the out of pocket expenses by taking advantage of the HSA rules. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, you can set one up on your own. Confused between FSA, HSA and HRA? Just ask somebody! Your coach, HR or even Google, but don’t let it slide!
7. Up that retirement plan contribution. At least get the match… that’s free money! If at all possible, up your contribution 1% each year until you’re putting in 12%. Check with your employer to make sure that you can change (either drop or increase your contribution at any time). If so, try out the new contribution level. If it means you’re adding to credit cards, change it back to get your budget under control.
8. Don’t discount dental and vision.
9. Take the time to really understand the optional benefits. Don’t have wills, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, HIPPA authorizations and legal is available for $20 a month? Many of these plans will even let you drop out after 6 months, so get your wills done! Going to have a baby? Will AFLAC help cover the out of pocket for less than the cost of insurance? If so, sign up!
10. Bite the bullet and get what you need for financial security. Then go back and work on your budget to see what lifestyle changes you need to make to cover your financial security before you click that final button. Need help figuring out how to change your spending patterns? Get it! Sometimes even Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) will have people who can talk through this stuff.
Fiscal Fitness Clubs members can access the pre-work, class video, and tools through the online classroom. Also, they get help in taking advantage of employers’ benefits and in solving problems with the help of a financial coach or by jumping into our monthly Coaching Hours the 3rd Wednesday of the month.
If you want to learn how to present benefits to employees in an engaging way, contact us. We’ve actually been told that our presentations are fun and helpful! (When was the last time you heard that a financial presentation was fun???) Send us an email or set up a call HERE.