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Home » Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Workplace Finance

4 Things you should do Before Open Enrollment Closes

Last updated by on 7 Comments

What is Open Enrollment?

This is open enrollment season at many employers. What is open enrollment? It’s basically a window of time that your employer allows you to change your benefit elections for the upcoming year. Since you typically only get one chance to do this, you want to make sure you’re taking advantage of it. Here are some things you should do:

1. Update your Medical Health Insurance:

Look to see if the cost or benefits of the plans will change from what they presently are. Sometimes employers will raise or lower premiums, co-pays, and covered benefits for various plans. This might make it worth it to make the switch, but if you don’t at least look at the details, you’ll never know. This year, I discovered that my plan no longer charges a co-pay for preventative health visits.

open enrollment2. Update your Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA):

During open enrollment you can elect how much to put into your FSA. FSA’s are spending accounts that are funding by deductions from your paycheck. The nice thing about FSA’s is that the funds are not taxed, so you are saving money on your medical expenses.

Check to see how much your employer will allow you to deduct (the maximum FSA amount is often $3,000). If you do opt for an FSA, be careful not to load it with more than you will spend as it is often ‘use it or lose it’ in many plans. Not sure how much you might spend on medical expenses? Check out Kiplinger’s FSA calculator.

3. Update your Beneficiary Information:

If you’ve had any major life changes in the past year that would cause your beneficiaries to change, open enrollment is the time to update.

4. Consider Voluntary Life Insurance and Disability Insurance:

If you are currently paying for these things on your own, your employer may be able to offer you a better rate through a voluntary group plan. The costs for these voluntary plans would be deducted from your paycheck.

Open Enrollment Discussion:

  • Have you made any changes to your benefits during open enrollment? What changes?
  • How much are you funding your FSA with?

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7 Comments »
  • Honey says:

    I think that when my open enrollment happened (August, as we’re state employees where I work) I just renewed all my current coverages, since I didn’t have any problems.

    I don’t have an FSA, as I’m a 30-year old vegetarian with no health problems and no plans to have children. If I ever develop a chronic condition, then I’ll spring – but as it stands I’ve been to the doctor three times in the past two years and haven’t had any real health costs to speak of.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Honey – FSA’s can be used for a number of things including insurance co-pays, eye glasses, contacts, etc. Not just for those with health problems.

  • Making Me a Millionaire says:

    I maxed it out this year with $3k and since we have no kids I had a hard time spending it. Let’s just say I am still scrambling to buy Tylenol, neosporin, eyedrops, pregnancy tests in bulk to use it up. I also went to the chiropractor an insane number of times trying to use it up. Next year I will definitely be lowering it to around 1k or so.

  • Robert says:

    I always check to see how much (if at all) my rates have changed for medical, dental and vision coverage. If I can’t afford it, I usually switch to a more affordable plan during open enrollment. I like my current dental and medical providers, but costs seem to rise each year and I always take time to do a little research.

  • Evgeniy says:

    Medical Health Insurance at me too has changed.Have Transferred in other insurance company. Quality of service became worse. I always watch such changes.

  • boshyd says:

    I have a choice of 2 plans from same insurance company through my employer. Cheaper plan pays most of the stuff 80% while expensive plan covers 100%.
    Cheaper plan co-pays are $20 more than expensive plan. Our family is relatively healthy and rarely go to the doctor. We do have a newborn, who is days old. Considering, cheaper plan is $2000 less than expensive plan in 2010, is it better to go with cheaper plan and have a FSA of about $500 or so to take care of higher co-pays, or just go with the expensive plan, and get some peace of mind?

  • Mark says:

    Does an employer have to have an open enrollment BEFORE the new plan year by law? Or, can the employer have the open enrollment AFTER the new benefits plan year has begun? In this instance, our employer raised our medical premiums last year. We believe they will do so again this year. Our new benefits plan year started March 1, 2010 but our employer has yet to announce an open enrollment, nor have then announced what our rates will be for the 2010/2011 plan year.

    Help! I need to know when an employer MUST provide the open enrollment. One pay period has already passed. I need

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