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Home » Health Insurance, Workplace Finance

Dude, Where’s my Open Enrollment?

Last updated by on 14 Comments

Ahhh… open enrollment.

A joyous time of year, when the leaves start turning colors and falling, there’s a crisp cool in the air, and you get to review 401K match, health insurance, HSA, FSA and other assorted employer benefit cuts and premium increases to select the least worst of what is available to you as your employer reminds you of how lucky you are and how much they are sacrificing for you to only pay 2X the going market rate for health insurance or $0.25 on the dollar up to 4% of your earnings if you stay at the company for another 11 years.

I kid… sort of.

Open enrollment typically is announced at the beginning of October at most places of employment for the following year.

But you’ve probably noticed things are a bit silent on the open enrollment front this year for 2014.

Here’s why: the government shutdown.

late open enrollmentOpen enrollment usually coincides with announcements around how much you can contribute to your 401K, HSA, HDHP out of pocket maximums, etc., etc – based on cost of living adjustments that coincide with inflation over the previous year. The IRS calculates cost of living increases, makes corresponding changes to retirement, medical, and other tax related accounts and then typically announces these changes at the beginning October. However, since the government was shut down up until October 18, they’ve only been back for a little over a week now and haven’t announced anything yet.

So, your employer’s HR/benefits department is anxiously awaiting behind drafted emails to fill in the blanks.

I would assume that you’ll start to see some announcements on 2014 this coming week and your employer (if they are on their game) will chime in within a few days on their open enrollment.

When they do, carefully review everything. With the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges launching, I would presume that this year will bring more benefit and cost changes to your health insurance offerings than typical.

When it comes to inflation adjustments, the U.S. CPI over the past 12 months has been a tiny 1.5% – so don’t expect much in the way of IRA, 401K, and other adjustments.

I’ll highlight the big changes here, at 20somethingfinance.

Open Enrollment Discussion:

  • Do you get excited, fearful, or otherwise about open enrollment? Why?
  • Has your employer made any announcements on open enrollment for 2014?
  • What kind of changes are you expecting for 2014?

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


14 Comments »
  • Julie @ J's Green Leaves says:

    Hi, G.E. Longtime reader, first time commenter. 20SomethingFinance has been invaluable to me over the last couple of years as I’ve gotten my financial act together. So, thanks!

    I look forward to open enrollment mostly because I love planning. There won’t be any drastic changes for me this year, except for considering going up to $1000 deductible PPO, since my $350 deductible PPO is about to be more than I want to pay. We just heard the first whispers of information about open enrollment on Friday. I don’t expect a ton of changes to my employer’s plans this year but I have some more reading to do.

  • Chris in Boston says:

    My employer continues to offer the same three excellent healthcare plan options. Cigna, AETNA POS II, and AETNA HDHP + HSA. All three plans provide the same coverage option, but the HDHP plan pays 100% of all maintenance medications with no out of pocket copay.

    Each of the plans continues with the same deductibles as last year, and our costs for premiums each paycheck for the HDHP plan which I subscribe to has only increased by $5.00 per month ($2.50 per paycheck)

    It seems that ACA has had no negative impact on our open enrollment this year.

    • SD Lurker says:

      It may be because Obama delayed the penalty for corporate plans by one year so that companies have that as a grace period to bring their health insurance plans into conformance with ACA.

    • Amanda M. says:

      I hope that my company stays the same as well. I know that because of the size of our workforce, the company is self insured, so most of the happenings of the new laws should not affect the price of coverage much. It was bumped up last year, because all of our plans were brought into compliance with the ACA laws, but that coverage will not change for this year.

  • Steve says:

    For young and healthy people, would you generally recommend opting out of their companies’ health insurance and buying their own? On one hand, since they probably pay less into the pooled risk than older and/or unhealthier people, the pure premium is probably lower. On the other hand, I think they’d have to pay for it with after-tax dollars, and any company contributions to HSAs and FSAs go away.

    For me, while I’m pretty sure I could get a very similar plan for a lower premium, I highly doubt it would be so much cheaper to make up for the lack of company match on my HSA.

  • BLCI says:

    Hey G.E.,
    Long time reader – first time post. I am 30 years old, married, with 2 young kids. We are all extremely healthy. I work for a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company and just got notice that open enrollment officially opens on 11/04 in which the details (price) will be available at that time. However, we did receive a summary letter and handbook for review. In fairness to the company and my employment, I will not use their name rather I will call them XXXXX.
    The highlighted (ok…low lights for me)included: “Total medical, prescription, and dental costs at XXXXX are projected to rise by approximately $3 million in 2014, in 2014, an increase of 9%. The national medical cost inflation trends are approximately 10% to 11%. There are no changes to the medical and prescription plan designs for 2014, aside from those required by the new Health Care Reform Law. Starting in 2014, there are mandated fees that employees will be subject to due to Health Care Reform legislation. The two mandated fees are the Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCORI) Fee and Transitional Reinsurance Fee (TRF). All XXXXX employees enrolled in any medical plan will be responsible for these fees. The total payroll deduction is $65 PER member (employee plus each dependent) per year. Example – family of 5 will be charged a fee of $325. In addition, XXXXX will offer tobacco user and non-tobacco user rates.

    Based on the expected premium increase and ridiculous mandated fee, I will be choosing the highest deductible plan so I can be more in control of my money rather than paying higher premiums to the insurance company. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Chris in Boston says:

      If it were me, and if your employer offers it, I’d look into and HDHP plan and max out the HSA.

      People fear HDHP for some reason. They do save money! I feel they are the best options.

      My employer contributes $1,000 to my HSA and when you factor that into the equation, the cost of having the HDHP coverage works out to only $536 annually to cover me plus my spouse.

      I max out my HSA to the federal limit and that is a nice tax deduction too!

  • Open enrollment already started at our company. I have two weeks to finish elections.

  • D says:

    Northwestern Mutual made changes to 2014 Health Insurance premiums. Throughout 2013, employees and anyone covered under the insurance were required to complete 4 activities in order to lower your annual premium:

    - completing a biometric screening, including blood sample to test for cholesterol, glucose level, Triglicerides, blood pressure, pulse and BMI. BMI measure used only height/weight to calculate. Completing this credited annual premium $400.

    - completing a Health Survey online awarded $120 credit.

    - Taking part in at least 1 coaching call with WebMD if your biometric screening deemed you unhealthy. This awarded you a $400 credit.

    - Logging 60 sessions of activity in an online tracking database. This awarded you a $400 credit.

    My wife didn’t do her activities and I mistakenly logged only 42 days of exercise resulting in a monthly premium increase from $149/mo in 2013 to $282 in 2014.

    Win/win on my companies part.

    Lose/lose on the employees part.

  • Slinky says:

    Ready for extra open enrollment fun?

    My company is younger and healthier. We are doing open enrollment early to avoid getting your rates jacked because of the ACA on 1/1/2014. 9% increase, no change to coverage.

    My husband’s work overutilizes. There was a possibility for a while that it would be cheaper to drop healthcare and pay the fine. Looks like they are keeping it, but we don’t even know if they are keeping the same insurance provider, let alone the plan and what the premiums will be. They also were trying something similar to the system D described, only with points to earn based on your screening and then activities to earn the points. You either earned the points for the lower premium or you didn’t. One of the deciding factors for points was BMI (tragically flawed system that it is). Since my husband’s build is best described as “stocky”, he’s pretty well screwed with that system. He just did his screening, but hasn’t gotten the results. SO. We have ABSOLUTELY no idea what his company’s insurance will look like.

    My enrollment ends on Wednesday, which gave us a grand total of 5 days to consider our options. It’s like a fun new roulette game! What would you do? Bet on black?

    • D says:

      I feel your husbands pain. I played 5 seasons of college football as a linebacker…my BMI by height/weight was calculated at 29 while my 5 point caliper reading is 6%. Doesn’t matter though as they only take height/weight into the BMI measure.

      • Slinky says:

        Yep. He needs to drop some fat (potbelly), but according to bmi i think it’s something like half his weight. Not gonna happen unless he can somehow ditch the 54″ chest. Meanwhile my mother and i barely even make it on the adult chart.

        Everyone agrees it’s flawed so why are we still using this?

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