There’s a lot to think about during annual open enrollment. Once you’ve read through all the materials your employer has provided to you and considered what you and your family might need from your benefits in the coming year, it’s time to dig into the finer details. These top five questions about open enrollment are a good place to start.
1. Has there been a change in providers?
If your employer has switched insurance providers, your current doctor may no longer be considered in-network. That means you’ll either have to switch to a new doctor or be hit with out-of-network charges. Review the plan’s list of participating health providers to determine if your doctor is included. Those lists are often found on the insurance company’s website.
2. What are the limits?
What are the deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket limits? To compare the total anticipated costs with each plan, you need to understand when and how you’ll be charged during routine visits as well as emergency care.
3. Will my medication be covered?
Prescription drug costs can add up. If you take medication to manage a chronic condition, check the formulary (the list of the generic and brand-name drugs that are included in the plan). Make sure your medications are covered and find out what the copay will be.
4. Is there a spousal surcharge?
If you’re married, review your spouse’s insurance options and consider whether it makes sense to switch to their plan (or add them to yours). Some plans charge extra to add a spouse if they have the option of being covered by their own employer. If that’s the case, it might be best to stick with separate coverage.
5. Which benefits are paid by my employer?
While many benefits are paid through paycheck deferral, some may be fully covered by your employer, essentially making them free to you. Additionally, look for no-cost benefits your employer might be offering, like workplace wellness programs. Whenever possible, take advantage of those options so you’re not leaving money on the table.
Your employer may also offer additional benefit options for a relatively small monthly fee that may help you avoid unexpected costs if you are unable to work due to a non-work related injury or illness. These supplemental benefit offerings may vary by your employer.
Prepare for the Upcoming Year
Open enrollment is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with your benefits website so you’ll know where to get the information you need and feel confident using the system. Whether you’ve had major life changes in the past year or things are humming along like they always have, now is a good time to reevaluate all of your benefits selections and make sure they still work for you and your family.